A Lovingly Restored Pipe Organ
By David Benson
The organ at St. Paul’s was built by the Aeolian-Skinner organ company, a major builder of church and concert pipe organs from 1932 until 1971. Skinners are prized for their “church” sound and ours is no exception. Our organ was installed sometime in 1952 and its longevity and stability are truly amazing. We are fortunate this instrument has lasted these many years.
In the last ten years, the organ began showing signs of wear and tear and St. Paul’s recently completed an extensive repair of this fine instrument. Most of the problems are related to the wiring in the console and organ chamber, but there are also other areas that needed attention.
The repairs and upgrades were made by Pieter Visser of Houston, Texas. The renovation provided new pre-wired keyboards with state-of-the-art technology and wiring, re-wiring of the organ chamber itself and the re-leathering of the chest. A new blower was installed, and the facade pipes were cleaned and repainted.
As part of the additions, the “Great” division of the organ (think of this as those pipes that make up the main part of a pipe organ) was removed from the chamber and installed at the rear of the nave just below the round window with new casework. New pipework in the chamber will replaced these pipes as a new Great division. This arrangement greatly enhanced congregational singing and provided the organ with more variety of voices.
With this project completed, St. Paul’s has a fine organ that should last many more years and provide the sound we have come to expect in our weekly worship and parish celebrations.