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OUR PIPE ORGAN

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It all began in 1968.  On a Sunday when our Minshall-Estey electric organ failed during worship, an ad appeared in the Boston Globe classified section for an Estey  pipe organ for sale in Carlisle, MA.

After much investigation,  discussion and consultation with Laurence Leonard of Laconia (experienced in such organs), and in a remarkable leap of faith, the church voted to purchase the organ and build an addition on to the East side of the building to house it.

The organ was Estey Opus 1284, 1914, a two-manual 10-rank tubular-pneumatic  instrument.  Essentially without professional help the organ was moved and stored, the chamber built, and the organ installed, with the pipe façade visible in the sanctuary as it now appears.  It was first heard in worship in November, the church’s longtime organist, Catharine B. Currier, playing.

Many hands took part.   The church family was very enthusiastic and willing to work and support the project, and much work was required.  The leadership included Rev. Richard Crooks (pastor), Dennis Akerman (chair), Larry Leonard (advisor and helper), and Ellwood Bennett ( in charge of building the chamber).

It is of interest that of the 26 pipes visible to the congregation, only 16 are speaking pipes.  The others are “dummies” used to create the case pipes for the original organ.  They created a pleasant and proper-sized façade in our building, so we arranged them much as they were built.

In 1976 the console was replaced with an electro-pneumatic Estey console from Opus 3072, Concord, 1936.  An additional chest and several ranks were added.

In 1985, William A. Brys, organ builder from Charlestown, NH, and master of all things Estey, removed the old chests , did many tonal changes, and installed chests from Estey Opus 3247 (Keene, NH).  This was a major reworking of the organ.  Bill and the church were delighted with the result.  Bill was most generous toward us.

In 1995 Brys installed the pedal  Open Diapason 16’, from Estey Opus 1865, Philadelphia.

In 2003 the Swell division was enclosed in a new swell box, the work done by church members.

In 2005 the Trumpet 8’ was removed from the Swell chest and installed on a new offset chest.   A Gemshorn 8’, planned by Bill Brys, was purchased from his estate and added to the Swell.  Philip Wellington built the chest.

In 2014, the bottom octave of the Trumpet 8’ was completed, using a Peterson electronic  extension.

By 2017 it became apparent that the Estey-Brys organ had begun to fail.  Although there was a valiant effort by dedicated church members, the old chests and console became overwhelmingly problematic.  In short, they had lived their lives and were worn out.

Much discussion, planning, and dreaming was done by Laura Belanger, Organist,  Dennis Akerman, Minister of Music, and K. Robert Bengtson, organ builder.  A general plan was laid out, and a presentation made to a congregational meeting in 2018.  The church agreed to proceed and to raise $60,000 to fund the project.  That goal was achieved in a matter of a few weeks, and has been far exceeded over the past 4 years.

What has developed since then has been nothing short of wonderful.    Because of extensive volunteer labor, careful oversight by Bob, and very good fortune in purchases, a renovation which would have cost many hundreds of thousands if done by a regular organ firm, will have cost less than $100,000 when it is finished.

There have been some major events which have shaped what has been achieved. Early on in the project, a team fell into place.  Clif Mills joined Laura, Dennis, and Bob.  The care, work, and commitment Clif has given has been extremely skilled and generous.

In a major stroke of good luck, we found a recent three-manual Austin console in New Jersey,   originally built for a church in upstate New York.  Its condition exceeded our expectations, and it has proved to be a key in the success of the project.

With the commitment to a 3-manual console, it was decided to add a third division.  A small 4-rank division, including two chests, was available from a builder in New York City.  A trip to New York was arranged and on approval of the team, the entire division was transported back to Sanbornton,  Laura at the wheel of a rental truck.

 

It was decided that it would not be practical to save the Estey chests.  A more prudent approach was to rebuild two Austin chests owned by Bob Bengtson.  Bob painstakingly spent many hours carefully restoring those chests to like-new condition.  Clif did most of the extensive wiring.

Removing the old chests and installing the rebuilt ones and all the pipes was a major project.  Clif installed an exterior door on the North wall of the chamber to facilitate it.  Much of this work took place while the church was closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.  Parts and pipes were placed all over the pews,  in the aisles, and in nearly every corner and cranny.

 

The new swell box was built by Clif and Robert Ladew, with the help of others.    A new computer-controlled swell shade mechanism was installed.

 

The new organ required a more powerful blower;  one perfect for our needs was located by Laura in Tennessee.   We bought it and Laura made a road trip to get it.

 

Many trips were made to obtain pipes for the new instrument, several by Laura to Pennsylvania and by the team to Rhode Island where we found a number of fine Austin ranks which we were able to inspect, try,  and purchase.   Some came from as near as Bob’s trove in Laconia, and 5 ranks from the original Estey are still in service.

 

While the team has been consulted every step of the way, the selection,  installation, voicing and tuning of the pipes has been Bob’s work, carefully and professionally done to a high standard.  His skill is largely responsible for the way the organ sounds today.

 

The organ now contains 1464 pipes. By mid-2022, the organ project was nearing completion.  There is still work to be done, but the major part of the project is complete.

Organ Specification

Great

  • Principal 8’

  • Melodia 8’

  • Dulciana 8’ 

  • Unda Maris 8’

  • Octave 4’

  • Fifteenth 2’

  • Mixture III

  • Krummhorn 8’

  • Chimes  

Swell

  • Open Diapason 8’

  • Stopped Diapason 8’

  • Salicional 8’

  • Celeste 8’

  • Harmonic Flute 4’

  • Blockflote 2’

  • Larigot  1 1/3’

  • Oboe 8’

  • Tremulant

Choir

  • Gedackt 8’

  • Octav 4’ 

  • Koppelflute 4’ 

  • Nazard 2 2/3’ 

  • Superoctav 2’ 

  • Flute 2’

  • Tierce 1 3/5’

  • Trompette 8’

  • Tremulant

Play Chorale Prelude on 'Weston' - Michael Bedford
00:00 / 01:56

Pedal

  • Bourdon 32’ *

  • Open Diapason 16’

  • Bourdon 16’          

  • Lieblich Gedackt 16’ *

  • Octave 8’

  • Gedackt 8’ *

  • Choral Bass 4’

  • Fifteenth 2’

  • Trombone 16’ *

  • Trumpette 16' *

  • Bassoon 16’ *

  • Violone 16’ *

  • Cornopean 8’ *

  • Krummhorn 4’

  ( * = digital stop)​