The Fellowship Organ’s History
Our instrument was Opus 402,1888. It was originally installed in St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Washington DC. The building, along with the organ, was sold later to the John Wesley A.M.E. Church, headquarters of the A.M.E denomination; they later replaced the instrument with a larger one. The Organ Clearing House in New Hampshire acquired the organ, and it was from this firm that Wesley Morgan and Jim McEvers purchased the pipe work on behalf of our congregation.
The pipe-work was originally the creation of the Roosevelt Organ Works of New York City. The company was founded by Hilborne Roosevelt, a cousin of Theodore Roosevelt, in 1872. Roosevelt Pipes are highly regarded among Pipe Organ builders and organists. Some of these pipes remain. The reed pipes (trumpet) were not in good condition, so the organ now has 11 ranks of pipes including a doppelflute, a type of flute pipe for which the Roosevelt’s are renowned. The Console is a “Skinner” Console. It is also an old highly respected name in pipe organ circles.
During 2002 the Fellowship decided to refurbish this organ in preparation for its move from 301 W. Elm Street, Carbondale to its new home at 105 N. Parrish Lane. Two donors generously provided $110,000 for the the project. The prestigious Wicks Organ Company of Highland, Illinois submitted a proposal for the refurbishing project that would retain the present Skinner console wooden case, but replace its present components with digital solid state components. The digital component of the organ would have 15 voices. These would be combined with 5 ranks from our present pipe system, with choice of those to be incorporated decided by how well they integrate with the digital voices. The organ would thus have the equivalent of 21 ranks. Present windchests would be replaced by windchests made by Wicks, which would enable reduced space requirements. The pipe enclosure would be about 100 sq. ft., and be 8′ high. Speakers would be located with the pipes within the wooden case. These were subsequently modified through consultations with Bob Swenson, chair of the Keyboard Committee, the new building architect Harlan Bohnsack, Tom Robinson as construction project manager, and Wicks Organ Company. A sixth pipe rank from the original instrument was added at the end of the project by means of additional donations.
Detailed specifications are available from the original Wicks proposal and revisions provided by Wicks Organ Company through Bob Swensen.
The reconstructed organ was moved to its new home at 105 N. Parrish at the end of March, 2004. It was first performed at a Sunday service on April 4th by Lawrence Dennis. An inaugural concert was performed on the organ on May 23rd by Sidney Smith.
[Information on the organ’s early history was gathered by Nancy Ringler Barbee.]