Category Archives: Organ Project

Organ Project Update

Since the approval of funds for the organ restoration project, there has been quite a bit of background work completed. In October, the contract was signed after some final negotiations, then the process of designing the console was initiated. This process determined the layout of each component of the console, including stop tabs and names, placement and function of pistons (thumb and toe), selection and placement of control system, and basic design elements. This process was navigated using hand drawings. After approval of the hand drawings, a drawing was completed by Austin Organs using computer-aided design. These drawings are currently being revised, but show the way the console will look when it returns to the church.

Now that the console design has been completed, several more preliminary steps will occur. First, Austin Organs will order the parts from suppliers, including the new control system, new wood pieces, new felt, engravings, and other necessary parts. During this time, Austin Organs will visit GPC for further discussion of tonal design and to go through the organ again. Much of the background is not visible, but extremely important. Currently, we are on track for Austin Organs to remove our organ in early May. While these steps are occurring, some manufacturing will occur for our restored organ. Primarily, the new pneumatics (the so-called “leathers”) will be constructed. Pictures will follow soon showing the new pneumatics and some of the engravings and other organ components.

Drawing showing the entire console of our redesigned organ, including the stop tabs down to the pedal board.

Austin Organs will come to GPC to remove the organ in early May and take it to their factory in Hartford, CT. In the factory, the console will be rebuilt, the pipes fixed and voiced, and final work on the pneumatics completed. During the summer months, we will be provided with an Allen digital organ. We anticipate the return of our pipe instrument in September. After it returns, we can expect several months of “settling” and voicing to occur. As we look ahead, a rededication recital will be held in November. Stay tuned for more information on the re-dedication and other recitals on the organ during the next program year.

Throughout this process, our committee has worked extensively with the Austin Organs team to design the organ. Austin Organs has existed since the late 1800s and is a well-known and highly respected organ builder. For more information about the company, including a detailed history, please visit their website.

If you have any questions or would like a more detailed explanation of the organ restoration process, please contact .

Organ Project

Mr. Frank Kennedy at organ c. 1928

Our organ was installed in 1928 by Austin Organs. The original instrument comprised 26 speaking stops split across four divisions (great, choir, swell, and pedal). In 1967, almost 40 years after the initial construction of the organ, the church contracted Austin Organs to rebuild and tonally update the organ. The organ was removed and completely re-designed — only about 400 pipes of the original 1,662 were kept. The chests (woodwork that the pipes sit on and which contain all the actions allowing the pipes to speak) were rebuilt at this time. By the end of 1973, the church’s organ was the organ we now hear each week. It comprises 31 ranks of pipes across the same four divisions. The current console is the original, built in 1928, with considerable updates made across the years.

Inner workings of the organOur organ is now reaching its 90th birthday, and it is now 50 years since the last major rebuild was completed. As one might expect, our organ is starting to show its age. The actions of the organ (residing in the chests) are at the end of their life. Actions are built using leather, which has a typical lifespan of about 30 to 60 years depending on environmental factors.

In February, the session appointed a committee to study the short-term and long-term maintenance needs of the organ. After much work and research, the committee recommended Austin Organs to once again rebuild our church’s organ. This project will involve rebuilding the chests of the organ, cleaning and re-voicing the pipework of the organ (retaining almost all of the current pipework), and a complete rebuild of the current console. The goal of this project is to return the organ to its 1928 settings and to restore the organ to like-new condition. In August, the session approved the recommendation of the committee and the funding of the project by use of the church’s trust funds.

Choir with Rev. Pam Maloney on organ c. 1985In the coming weeks, we urge you to ask questions of the organ committee (see below). A brochure that describes the history of the organ and outlines the upcoming project will also be available in the coming weeks. A congregational meeting will be held on Sunday, September 24 following the 10:30 AM worship service to approve the use of trust funds for this project.

Our organ has led our congregation in song for 90 years, and the ultimate goal of this project is to help ensure that it continues to lead our congregation for another 90 years to come.

The Organ Maintenance Committee:
Tom Tabor, Bonnie Giel, Peggy Ziegler, Justin Weilnau – Director of Music, Trent Hancock – Pastor