The Moller Organ

Old Dutch Church, Kingston, NY

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The Reformed Protestant Dutch Church of Kingston, New York, was established in 1659. The first church of 1661 had no organ. At the 1678 Nov. 12 Consistory Meeting, Willem Montagne who had been acting as reader and p-tor (precenter = voorsanger or chanter), requested to be discharged from his duties. Hymn singing was led by the voorsanger. In a photograph of the 1832 Church at Main and Wall Street (presently St. Joseph's Church) there is a pipe organ. The church music was directed by the chorister who also played the organ.

When the present Old Dutch Church was built in 1852, Henry Erben was contracted to build a new organ. The beautiful case and the facade pipes still remain today. Henry Erben, for nearly sixty years, was known for the quality and the quantity of his work. During the 1850's he built the addition to the Albany First Reformed Church instrument (1852), St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York, the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Cleveland, St. Mary's Cathedral in San Francisco, St. James and Holy Name Cathedrals in Chicago, the Cathedral in Guatemala City, and many others including Old Dutch.

According to Consistory Minutes of 1852, Hiram R. Romeyn was elected chorister and organist of the church "to conduct the music at all public religious services in the church ÷ and practice at least once in two weeks with the choir for their instruction and improvement in sacred services." In June of 1859, Romeyn was again reappointed chorister and organist, and in addition to his salary of $100 per annum, he was "allowed $12 per annum to procure a suitable person to blow the organ."

The earliest bulletin, found in the church museum, is the 1892 Easter Sunday Bulletin. W. Whiting Fredenburgh was organist. The Domine was John Garnsey VanSlyke.

In 1903 the Erben organ was replaced by Ernest M. Skinner & Co. of Boston. The organ had 30 stops, 7 couplers, and 12 combination movements. This great organ was presented to the church in memory of Miss Henrietta Wynkoop. The opening recital was given by W. Whiting Fredenburgh on June 13, 1903. A copy of the organ recital with the stop list can be found in the Old Dutch museum.

During this time the organ was powered by a water driven motor. The Consistory sent a letter to the Water Department in Kingston requesting that the water pressure be maintained on Sunday mornings so that the organ could be played. The Consistory Minutes of November 2, 1914 read "÷Miss Sarah Reynolds be accorded the privilege and tendered thanks [from] the Consistory for installing an Electric Motor in the basement of the Church to replace the Water Driven Motor to furnish air for the organ," Included in the 1917-1918 budget, according to the Treasurer's report, was the sum of $42.00 for electric power for the organ, as well as $158.74 for light, and $4.10 for fuses.

In 1927 Mrs. Kathryn Deyo Boice gave the Echo Organ, built by Hall (West Haven, CT), to the church. The Organ Recital and "Inaugural Hearing of the Echo Organ, Chimes and Harp" was given by Clarence Dickinson. The pipework included 8' Gedeckt, 8' Viole d'Amour, 8' Vox Angelica , 8' Vox Humana, and 16' Echo Bass.

On July 21, 1954, the Music Committee of the Consistory reported at the Consistory Meeting that an estimate for the complete reconditioning of the organ (the 1903 E. M. Skinner) had been received from the Moller Organ Co. "It was suggested that report of estimate be given to church council for discussion and action." The Music Committee Chairman was Henry Millonig. Mrs. Ruth Burke began her duties as Director of Music on Sept. 1, 1954. Miss Lucinda Merritt became the organist at this time. In January, 1955, after hearing the Music Committee Report, the Consistory discussion concerning the organ resulted in agreement that "the Music Commit- tee should engage a consultant for his opinion relative to the best bids on this work and report such findings at the next meeting."

By the February meeting, Robert Williams, Newburgh, NY, had been engaged as a consultant. The Music Committee had assembled reports from interested organ companies. Robert Williams had reviewed proposals from Estey Organ Company "subject to rebuilding new wind chests" and from Moller Organ Company "including new wind chests." The Consultant and the Committee recommended that the Moller bid be accepted. The Moller bid was for a new organ, including new pipes, chests, reservoirs, shades, motor, and console. Both of the bids did not include "moving about two tons of organ parts from the balcony." The committee also recommended that the blower in the basement be vented to the outside in order to prevent a flash fire. Hilton moved, seconded by Rinschler, the following: "That the Moller contract be signed and the deposit be made at this time and at the Congregational meeting this Consistory would present to the congregation complete plan for redecorating the Church and doing the organ and ask them for their approval to increase our present mortgage in a sufficient amount to cover all costs over and above such monies we will then have in the Rehabilitation Account. Carried."

In March the Music Committee (Henry Millonig, William Hilton, and Warren Simmons) reported that the contract with M. P. Moller organ company had been signed and the deposit had been made. Mr. Williams, the consultant, was paid. The 1927 Hall Echo Organ remained in use.

On January 15, 1956, Elmer A. Tidmarsh, Mus. D., played the Organ Recital for the Organ Dedication Service. The organ specifications for the Great Organ, the Swell Organ, and the Pedal Organ remain the same today. At this time Rev. Arthur Oudemool was the Domine, Mrs. Willard Burke was the Minister of Music, and Mrs. Clarence Beehler, Jr. was the organist.

During the 1960's a Choir division was installed by Wicks Organ Co. in the empty Choir chamber. Due to many problems (unlike Moller, Wicks is direct electric) the Wicks Choir Division was replaced by Moller in 1980.

In 1978 a Music Committee Organ Sub-Committee was appointed to develop recommendations based on the comprehensive 1955 projection for the organ. The committee consisted of Henry Millonig, Chairman; Ruth Burke, Secretary; Edna Rignall; and Warren Simmons. The committee contacted Jack Davis of West Point Chapel, Donald Pearson, head of the Music Department at Vassar, and the Moller Organ Company, who had made the 1955 plan for restoration. All agreed on 6 Ranks with 464 pipes. With the approval of the Consistory, the contract was signed. The Florence Tappen bequest of 1978 and the work of dedicated choir members, who raised money, made this possible.

The 1980 Moller Choir division has an 8' Holz Gedeckt, 4' Spitzflote, 2' Principal, 1 1/3 Quint, Zimbel II-III, and 8' Krummhorn.

In January, 1990, the Consistory appointed an Organ Committee (Chpn. Barbara Lottridge, Ruth Burke, David and Maureen Keehn, and Edna Rignall) which would report to the Consistory Program Committee (Chpn. Harry Flowers, Ernest Cozza, and Roberta Gaddis). When Harry Flowers found it necessary to resign from the Consistory, Roberta Gaddis became Chairperson of the Program Committee and Dorothy Adami joined the Consistory Committee. Harry Flowers remained on the Organ Committee.

In February, Alan Hill, Vice-President of Foley- Baker, Inc. (the company who did the tuning and maintenance for the organ) met with both committees at Old Dutch. David Friedell, the Eastern Area representative for the Moller Organ Company (David Friedell presently is Chief Curator of Organs at West Point Military Academy), also came to Old Dutch and went through the entire organ and made recommendations.

By September both companies had submitted contracts with various options. The Consistory Program Committee and the Organ Committee reviewed all of these contracts and concluded that Moller should receive the contract. By December, 1990, with the approval of the Consistory, the contracts were signed. The Great Organ Pedal Reed Unit (73 pipes) and the new Chancel Organ (317 pipes, new electric action for the chimes, reinstalling the harp, new tremolo, new shades, new chests, and new reservoir) completed all divisions of the organ.

The generous contributions of the congregation. the Harry Frey Trust Fund, and the Florence Tappen Fund made it possible to complete the 1955 projection for the Moller organ at Old Dutch Church. A beautiful plaque with the names of persons who donated money for the organ was placed in the organ balcony of the sanctuary. Also there is a plaque for the memorial donations given for Mrs. Ellen Flowers.

In June, 1991, the Echo Organ, built by Hall (West Haven, CT) in 1927 was removed. The pipework removed was the 8' Gedeckt, 8' Viole d'Amour, 8' Vox Angelica, 8' Vox Humana, and 16' Echo Bass. The Swell shades had been inoperable for many years. The replacement for the Echo Organ, which is now called the Chancel Organ, indicating its position in the sanctuary, has the capability of producing the soft Echo Organ sounds as well as the fuller basic organ (principal or diapason) sound appropriate for accompanying hymn singing or choirs.

During the summer of 1991 the church renovated the chamber. The work was done by sexton Tom Sickler under the direction of Consistory Chairman Donald Hornbeck. The former false ceiling, which gave the pipes so little room in which to speak, was removed. Walls were patched and painted. The floor was cleaned and painted. A new ceiling, sturdy enough to withstand the vibrations from the many pipes, was placed at the full height of the room. Now the room has good reflective hard surfaces so that the sound in the chamber can develop. New florescent lights were installed.

On Nov. 4, 1991 Barbara and Lewis Lottridge visited the world's largest pipe organ factory, M. P. Moller, Inc., in Hagerstown, Maryland. Lewis took many photographs to display for the congregation during coffee hours. Mr. Howard Weaver, Moller Vice-President in charge of sales, took them through this historic landmark factory. The tour began in the erecting room. It would take more than five Old Dutch sanctuaries to fill this room. There in one corner stood the Old Dutch Chancel manual chest, set up on the floor form with the reservoir, and the two offset chests mounted on each side of the manual chest. Next to it was the Great Organ Trumpet chest for the 61 Great Trumpet pipes and the Great Organ Trombone chest which will hold the 12 largest reed pipes. Chests are made of poplar wood. Pipe racks with ties for holding pipes were also there. The switching unit for the Chancel Organ was open exposing its many cards and cables. Each rank of 61 notes has a card which must be wired to each pipe. There are 317 new pipes (5 ranks and the Echo bass Gedeckt Pedal pipes) in the Chancel Organ. The harp with 41 bars, and the chimes (21 tubes) with new electric action, must also be wired to the switching unit.

In the erecting room there were several other large organs on the floor. Moller recently built a five manual, 205 rank organ for Calvary Church, Charlotte, NC. It took 5 years to build and 19 tractor-trailer loads to deliver this instrument, which is the largest pipe organ to be built at one time.

All work begins in the engineering department. CAD (Computer Aided Design) replaced the drawing board. Here were stored the original blueprints for all organs built since the late 1800's. In the soft metal shop were patterns for pipes, an 8' principal (like the one in the Chancel Organ) with its body rounded and soldered, and many more pipes. Zinc bases are painted a pewter color. Spotted metal pipes are lacquered.

Keyboard manuals were being assembled. Cattle bone instead of ivory is now used for keys. Console shells were being assembled. Today's consoles are much lighter. They have capture systems with many memories rather than the electro-pneumatic combination action such as the Old Dutch Church organ has. Many pipe organ consoles are now wired for MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface).

There were many pipe storage rooms. Reed pipes, wood pipes, mitered pipes, and more. Mitered pipes are bent at the top. This makes it possible for the pipe to fit where the ceiling is not high enough. There are some mitered principal pipes in the Chancel Organ. After a pipe is made it goes to one of the voicing rooms where it is adjusted to make proper speech. Moller has made over 30 million pipes; that is 500,000 ranks. The factory employed 167 people as well as about 75 field representatives. Each organ designed and built is one of a kind.

On November 12, 1991, Moller delivered the Old Dutch Chancel Organ, Opus M-6453, and the 73 pipe Great Pedal Reed Unit, which was installed by David Friedell and Ralph Turano. Upon completion of installation, Mr. Donald Gillette came to Old Dutch to do the final voicing. Mr. Gillette, past president of Aeolian-Skinner Organ Company before he went to Moller, came to Old Dutch in 1980 to complete the voicing of the Great Choir Organ. Photographs of the Moller factory and the delivery and installation of the Chancel Organ and Pedal Reed Unit were on display in Bethany Hall during the Dedication Recital Reception.

The new Unit Reed pipes and action completes the Great Organ. The Pedal division has a 16' Trombone, 8' Trumpet, and 4' Clarion. The 8' Trumpet can also be played from the great manual. The Reed Unit contains 61 8' Trumpet pipes and 12 16' Reed pipes. The very large Reed pipes occupy the space behind the Choir organ..

The new pipes and action for the Chancel Organ include the 8' Principal, 8' String Celeste, 8' Gedeckt, 4' Octave (from Principal), 8' Trompette, and 16' Echo Bass Gedeckt.

The old Echo Organ chimes (21 tubes) were retained and given a new electric action. The original harp (49 bars), which has been releathered, was reinstalled. There are new Swell shades, approximately 3' by 5', new chests, and new reservoir.

The morning worship service of dedication was held Sunday, December 8, 1991. Organist Barbara Lottridge played Bach's 'Toccata and Fugue in D Minor" for the prelude and the "Toccata" by Widor for the postlude. Both of these pieces were played by Tidmarsh for the 1955 Organ Dedication recital. Rev. Paul Benes wrote a beautiful liturgy, which interspersed the words for the pastor and the congregation with music showing the various new stops of the organ. Special music by the Senior Choir, conducted by David Keehn, included 'Worship God With Music" for choir, organ, and trumpet by Sleeth; "Declare His Glory" by Wilson.' "Psalm 150" by Franck; and "When In Our Music God Is Glorified" arranged by Liebergen for choir, congregation, and Handbell Choir. The Youth Choir, directed by Maureen Keehn, sang "Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us" by Hal Hopson.

The Organ Dedication Recital was played by Dr. John A. Davis, Jr. On October 18, 1992, Sunday afternoon at 3:00 PM. John A. Davis, Jr. Was the organist and choirmaster at Cadet Chapel, U.S. Military Academy, West Point for thirty years. Dr. Davis has been organist and director at The Reformed Church of Poughkeepsie, NY, the oldest church in Dutchess County, since January of 1986. He has conducted and concertized in the United States and Germany.

The completion and restoration of the 1955 Moller organ began in 1980 when the Choir Division was built. The Swell shade motors were rebuilt in 1985. The Swell Division primaries were releathered in 1988. In 1989 repairs to static reservoirs and windlines were made. In 1990 the console action primaries were releathered. In 1991 the new Chancel Organ M-6453 was built and the Pedal and Manual Reed Stops were built to complete the Great organ. The console Pedalboard was replaced with a new one in 1992. In 1994 the Great Division secondaries were releathered.

When the church was hit by lightning the new Chancel Organ Swell motor and operating station were damaged. This resulted in the failure of the Chancel Organ Swell shades. (When Swell shades open and close the dynamic level changes from loud to soft.) An estimate for the insurance company was given by the Pipe Organ Restoration and Installation service (Ralph Turano). The Swell shade motor and operating station were removed and returned to the manufacturer for repair. Messrs. Friedell and Turano reinstalled it along with a Surge Protector that was supplied by the manufacturer at no charge.

Completion of releathering the organ was made possible in 1995 by a gift from the estate of Audrey Bigler. The Pedal Division was releathered. These 16' pipes are the largest, except for the new Pedal reed. The Pedal pipes are divided into three chests which are on different levels. The releathering included the removal of all action for the Pedal Organ, releathering all Pedal pneumatics and primaries, replacing gasket material, releathering associated switches and reinstalling all. The secondaries of the Swell Division were releathered. The Swell Division has 706 pipes. Six reservoirs were releathered. This gift of restoration work is a memorial to Audrey Bigler.

The 1955 Moller console is still in use. It has had frequent emergency repair. In its present condition repair work cannot be guaranteed.

Summer noontime organ recitals were established in 1992. The organists were Maida Blankschen, Matthew Jones, Barbara Lottridge, and Jim Lorenz. The following year the recital series was extended to eight weeks. In 1994 ten recitals were given at Fair Street Reformed Church. (Old Dutch organ was being releathered.)

A grant from the Decentralization Program of NYSCA (New York State Council of the Arts) for Ulster County administered by the DCAC (Dutchess County Arts Council) was received in 1995. The grant was submitted by Barbara Lottridge, Coordinator and Collette Sonnenberg, Publicity Director. Also on the Board of Directors were Sue Quinn, organist at Fair Street Reformed Church and Tom Kennedy, Old Dutch Consistory Program Chairman. A grant for the 1996 series was also received. More than 1600 people attended the 1996 recitals. Attendance at these Thursday noontime recitals continues to grow. The 1997 series received a grant and almost 2200 people attended. We still maintain no admission charge and focus on local organists.

Many people have been touched by the music ministry at Old Dutch Church. The beautiful sanctuary containing many historic objects along with the Great Moller Organ and Chancel Organ is visited daily by both tourists and local people. Special arrangements are made for tour groups. Comments from the organ recitals: "Relaxing atmosphere ÷ It has proven to be a wonderful stress reliever in the middle of my day ÷ They are excellent and an asset to our city....Wonderful assortment of composers. Please, more Bach.... I brought my elementary child three times. Great exposure .... A lovely setting and incredible organ .... Any reason for visiting this beautiful church is a welcome one! The organ recital was especially compelling .... Please continue them next year .... Idea of offering a series seems very beneficial to area and is suggestive of European, particularly Paris, traditions for extended use of the Lord's assets in public behalf, particularly in Arts, Architecture, and Music .... Just continue as you have already. Most enjoyable!"

By Barbara Lottridge, 1998


Old Dutch Church Consistory Minutes

Old Dutch Church Bulletins

Other sources found in the Old Dutch Church Museum

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