Our organ, installed in 1953, occupies a space at the left of the Chancel and is about the size of a living room but 19 ft in height.  This space is completely filled with pipes, chests and equipment.  Originally the console, on the right, was connected electrically with the 2,146 pipes in the organ chamber; here also is controlled the expression shutters, tremolos, etc.  For durability the wood pipes, chests, etc., are of selected Philippine mahogany.

The necessary wind for the organ is supplied by a Spencer blower located below the organ chamber and is driven by a 5 h.p. motor which supplies 1,200 cu. feet of air per minute at 7 inch pressure.

The versatility of the organ depends on the variety of tonal effects possible which effects are obtained by a suitable design of pipe.   Originally there were 61 notes on a manual keyboard, so if you wish to imitate a flue, there must be 61 “flute pipes”, each of different size and pitch to speak for each of these notes.  If thirty different tonal qualities are required, then there must be 30 sets of pipes, or their equivalent, each controlled by its own chest in the organ chamber.   Each of these chests has its own “stop” on the console.

This particular organ really consists of four organs, each with its own keyboard-three played by the hands and one by the feet, the Great, Swell, choir and Pedal, each with a distinctive group of tonal effects.  Many organ numbers require a quick shift of several of the ‘stops” to effect a desired change in mood.  To make it possible to effect this change instantly there are buttons under the keyboards which may be pressed for any particular grouping of “stops”.  By this means and by “couplers” the organist is permitted to play more than one organ from a single keyboard, resulting in an endless variety of combinations.

In 1989, a new three manual, drawknob console, detached with a solid state combination action and solid state switching, replaced existing relays and controls of the organ.  A new rectifier of ample capacity was provided.  New exposed pipes and chests for the Great, Swell, Organ and Choir Organ were also provided.

To control the volume of the organ “expression shutter”, like the vertical slats of a huge venetian blind, are located immediately behind the grill in the tone opening.  The organist controls the position of these shutters by a pedal, closing them for soft background music and opening them for full organ.  The entire instrument is a marvel of mechanical, electrical, aerodynamic and musical ingenuity and presents literally centuries of designing, experimenting and building.

This organ was built by the Reuter Organ Company of Lawrence, Kansas and was installed by F.C. Wichlac and Associates of Chicago, Illinois.

© 2012 First Presbyterian Church of South Bend – All rights reserved.