85-year-old Fred Hermes of Racine has built his basement around his passion: playing the organ. Hermes bought a Wurlitzer theater organ from the Michigan Theater in Detroit for $3,000 back in 1956, spent two years restoring it, and several more making it the centerpiece of his home.
Once Hermes restored the organ, he began collecting pieces of old theaters, right down to the seats - creating a one-of-a-kind home theater in his basement. Hermes says 170 people can fit into his basement, and he gets 30 to 40 tourists coming through per year, many of whom come from the Racine Tourism Office.
Hermes' organ is actually designed to be the sound of silent films, and with the flip of a switch, Hermes can switch the organ's sound from that of a trumpet, to a harp, to fit the occasion. Hermes says he does use his organ to present old silent films in his home through the Dairyland Organ Society.
Hermes says he has tour groups coming through his home starting in the spring.