Our pipe organ was built by the Johnson & Sons Organ Company of Massochusetts as its Opus 84. Contracted in 1923 as the gift of three parish families, the Hobarts, the Albros, and the Hoxsies, the organ was built during 1927 and 1928, and dedicated in December, 1928. As was characteristic of instruments in the “English – New England style,” it featured an array of 8′ foundation stops with no ranks pitched higher than 2′.
However, over the years various organists and organ builders have tinkered with it and taken out some voices and put in others. We know for a fact that there used to be a set of “vox humana” pipes, but those are gone.
It was originally a two-manual tracker instrument, but in the 1970s the tracker mechanisms were removed and the console replaced with electro-pneumatic components. This was part of a planned rebuilt by the Ruhland Organ Company of Cleveland. Unfortunately, this work was halted due to financial concerns and the only additional stops that were installed were a 4′ on the Great, and a 2′ and a 2-2/3′ on the Swell; some of the original 8’s were removed to make room for these additions. This left the instrument a pastiche of color and style with pipes that sounded neither consistently nor in consonance with each other.
Apart from minor restoration work done in 1996 and the painting of the facade pipes in 2001, through a donation from Mrs. May Gresham given in memory of her late husband, Alex Gresham, no additional work was done on the organ until 2004. In that year, organ builder James Leek of Oberlin, Ohio, replaced the console electronics with all new computerized components, recalibrated the action, and revoiced the instrument such that there would be better blend amongst the ranks and the beautiful colors this instrument offers could be better brought out. Leek also added memory levels and toe knobs.
In 2008, additional work was done and the console relocated to the opposite side of the Chancel, about thirty feet away from the air chests and pipes. The relocation of the console has opened space for additional pipes and it is our hope to add some “reed” stops to the organ for fuller sound and to expand the instrument’s repertoire.
The stops, couplers, and other features of the instrument are as follows: