Our Organ – OPUS 1144
Our Organ has a rich history in Lake Geneva, originally gifted to the church on June 12, 1883 by Mrs. George Mary Delafield Sturges. It has provided music at many Sunday services, weddings, recitals, funerals, and concerts over the past 135 years. In 2014, it was determined that our organ needed restoration and its 50-year-checkup – the last refurbishment being in 1969. Holy Communion is a small church but over five years managed to raise the $60,000 needed to have the organ restored. The final push involved several concerts, fundraisers, and even a 50/50 raffle to reach the goal. In January 2019, the organ builder dismantled the organ and moved it to their facility in Champaign, Illinois. The renovation was more extensive than planned and took four with re-installation in early June 2019.
A little more history: The organ in the Church of the Holy Communion is a two manual and pedal, mechanical action organ with 11 ranks. It was installed in 1883, as the Opus 1144 of the Boston, Massachusetts firm of Hook & Hastings. The cost to completely replace it with an all-new instrument of similar size would be $500,000. But replacing this organ with a similar instrument could be three times that amount.
Hook & Hastings (founded in 1829 as E. & G.G. Hook, renamed as E. & G.G. Hook & Hastings in 1872, and known as Hook & Hastings from 1881 until the firm ceased operations in 1936) was the preeminent New England organ builder of its day. Their instruments were truly world-class throughout the firm’s existence, and the remaining Hook organs are to be treasured as supreme examples of the organ builder’s art.
Organ Restoration work completed in 2019:
Replacement of the wooden wind reservoir which serves as a pressurized chamber storing air to be distributed to the seven windchests that in turn feed the pipes. The organ was not able to have all the stops pulled to play at the same time, it can certainly do that now!
The great manual windchest (wooden) had a crack in it, likely caused by low humidity. It is directly connected to the pipes themselves. This defect caused ciphers, or unwanted sounds. The windchest was removed, restored and reinstalled.
Cleaning of pipework and fitting of necessary slide tuners and regulating rings. Much of the organ’s moving parts are wood and metal tie-rods resting on leather bushings and connected to leather valves. The leather had dried out over the years and has now been replaced. Some of the larger pipes would not hold a tuning because of this the organ required repeated tuning, especially before major events.
Fabrication and installation of internal tuning slides on flue pipes and removable cap rings on Oboe-Bassoon pipes, to allow tuning of the organ to A-440 standards. The organ was originally built to A-450 in 1883. The American music industry reached an informal standard of 440 Hz in 1926. In 1936 the American Standards Association recommended that the A above middle C be tuned to 440 Hz. This alteration allows the organ to easily accompany many musical instruments.
Holy Communion’s organ is a classic that has been used for many organ recitals over its lifetime. We look forward to continuing to share this local treasure with musicians and concert goers of the future!
Order CD of 2018 Bengtson Concert:
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