Racine man and his basement theater make the network news

Fred Hermes appears on the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley


by Michele McCormack

RACINE-It's been a not so well kept secret in these parts for years; Fred Hermes and his extraordinary Wurlitzer organ.

He's on the official Racine tourism website and on Friday he was on the network news.

The 87 year old retired insurance salesman took network journalist Steve Hartman on a tour of his basement turned theater that's been drawing steady crowds ever since her purchased his Wurlitzer from the Michigan theater in Detroit back in 1956.

Hermes was just 29 at the time. It was a passion. A passion he followed decorating his basement with the remnants of movie theater of old.

The original 28-rank organ was the largest 5-manual instrument Wurlitzer built. 

"1926, March 1926," Hermes told Hartman, "the same month I was born."

Hartman asked if he felt a  kindred spirit with that organ?  Hermes answered right away, "yes."

Fred's home overlooking Lake Michigan was specially constructed to house the organ.

Built into the side of a hill, with a lower level that could contain the small theater.

Shows are by reservation only.

You can arrange group tours by calling 262-884-6407.



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