Sooner or later every pipe organ will need to be restored. Our restorations strive to return the instrument to like-new condition. We start by using the same materials and techniques as the original builders, making changes only where needed to ensure durability and reliability.
Cleaning, replacing and rebuilding
Although their musical qualities are always foremost, pipe organs are complex machines built from wood, felt, metal and leather. All of these materials wear and deteriorate with time, especially leather. Regular maintenance can help to slow this process, but eventually there comes a point where all the leather must be replaced. Depending on how the leather was originally prepared and environmental conditions such as temperature, humidity and soot, organ leather may last anywhere from 25 to 50 years or sometimes even longer.
Deteriorated leather in the windchests eventually causes some pipes not to sound, or to sound when they are not wanted (cypers). Replacing leather throughout the organ is a major job and it usually makes economic sense to clean and where necessary rebuild or repair every part of the instrument at the same time. For example, organ pipes collect dust, which eventually makes them sound dull and lifeless, so they need to be cleaned. Felt disks in the action wear out and console mechanisms wear or fail. Sometimes organs are damaged by fire, water, or termites and need immediate restoration.
Although the cost of restoration may seem high, it is usually far less than the cost of building a comparable pipe organ today. Electronic instruments, though much improved, cannot fully replicate the effect of thousands of individual pipes, each a separate handmade musical instrument with its own unique qualities. Also, pipe organs can last for hundreds of years, while the life of electronic equipment is generally a few decades at best.
In Our Shop Now
Park Street Church, Boston, Aeolian-Skinner Organ Company, Inc. Opus 1353, 1957, 4 Manuals, 62 Ranks
Current Work: Restoration and tonal revisions to the Swell and Great Divisions
Previous Work: 2014–2017 – Restoration of Choir, Restoration of Great, Restoration and tonal revisions to Antiphonal
Belmont Chapel, St. Mark’s School, Southborough, MA, Casavant Frères Ltd. Opus 2542, 1959
Phased restoration and rebuilding by division.
Current work: Choir division
Previous work: 2017 – Swell division
2018 – Aeolian-Skinner Organ Company, Inc. Opus 1204, 1952, 2 Manuals, 19 ranks: Restoration, reconfiguration and expansion
2009–2017 – Chapel of St. Peter and St. Paul, St. Paul’s School, Concord, NH. Aeolian-Skinner Organ Company Opus 825-A, 1953: Restoration and tonal revision, now 56 ranks
2017 – St. John’s in the Wilderness Cathedral, Denver, CO. Addition of new Antiphonal division with vintage Kimball pipework, in collaboration with J. Zamberlan & Co., 18 ranks to W.W. Kimball Co., Opus 7231, 1938, now 114 ranks
2016 – Mariana Bracetti Academy, Philadelphia, PA. W.W. Kimball Co., K.P.O. 7175, 1915, now 14 ranks
2014 – Private Residence, Berwyn, PA. Aeolian Co. Opus 1346, 1916, 2 manuals, 23 ranks: Restoration, reconfiguration and installation in new house
2013 – Strand Theatre, Plattsburgh, NY. Rudolph Wurlitzer Manufacturing Co. Opus 970, 1924, 3 manuals, 8 ranks
2013 – Trinity Episcopal Church, Oak Bluffs, MA. Carlson-Whalon Pipe Organs, 2 manuals, 10 ranks
2012 – St. Paul Parish, Philadelphia, PA. Skinner Organ Company Opus 638, 1926, 3 manuals, 15 ranks
2011 – St. John’s Cathedral, Denver, CO. W.W. Kimball Opus 7231, 1939, 4 manuals, 96 ranks: Full restoration
2011 – Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, PA. Aeolian Co. Opus 1726, 1928, 4 manuals, 146 ranks: restoration of mechanical components and pipework
2010, 2015 – United Parish, Brookline, MA. Aeolian-Skinner Organ Company, Inc. Opus 885, 1932, 4 manuals, 52 ranks
Sampling of Projects Prior to 2009
Central Congregational Church, Providence, RI. Aeolian-Skinner Organ Company, Inc. Opus 1440, 1964, 3 manuals, 58 ranks
St. James’ Church, Lake George, NY. Ernest M. Skinner Co. Opus 193, 1911, 2 manuals, 13 ranks
Church of the Holy Name, Swampscott, MA. Skinner Organ Company Opus 368, 1922, 3 manuals, 15 ranks
First Church of Christ, Scientist, Providence, RI. Hutchings-Votey Organ Co. Opus 1637, 1907, 3 manuals, 39 ranks
First Methodist Church, Oak Park, IL. Skinner Organ Company Opus 528, 1925, 4 manuals, 45 ranks
St. Mary, Star of the Sea, Beverly, MA. Hook & Hastings Co. Opus 2180, 1908, 3 manuals, 37 ranks
St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, Wiscasset, ME. Ernest M. Skinner Co. Opus 282, 1918, 2 manuals, 7 ranks
First Congregational Church, Milton, MA. Aeolian-Skinner Organ Company, Inc. Opus 914, 1934, 2 manuals, 18 ranks