The OHS Pipe Organ Database

BuilderID 1195

Builder Identification

Chicago, Illinois, 1884-1910.

Additional Notes

  • From the OHS PC Database, derived from A Guide to North American Organbuilders, rev. ed., by David H. Fox (Richmond, Va.: Organ Historical Society, 1997). —

    Makers of water motors in Chicago, Illinois, 1884-1910.


    • Stopt Diapason (Newsletter, Chicago Chapter of the OHS) #43.

  • From the OHS Database Builders Listing editor, September 4, 2016. —

    [A variation on the water mill, but using running tap water instead of a natural stream,] Small motors using the public water supply came into extensive use in the 1870s and 1880s in the US. A water motor consisted of a small water turbine that was suspended in a metal casing. The smallest water motors were used to run sewing machines, jigsaws, fans, and other similarly mechanized items. The larger water motors were recommended for operating coffee grinders, jeweler's and locksmith's lathes, grindstones, and church organs1 [replacing the 'bellows boy' who pumped the earlier organs.]

    Since churches of the era did not pay taxes for public utilities, this supplied a free power source to operate the organ. William Barnes claimed this kept the devices in use for sometime after electric blowers became common.2*

    *This practice was not without pitfalls: When neighbors tired of hearing the organist practice on the Roosevelt organ at Flagler Memorial church in St. Augustine, Florida, they turned on their lawn sprinklers causing the water pressure to fall and the organ motor to lose power.3 –Ed.


    1. LLoyd Alter, "Unintended consequences: motors driven by tap water," accessed Sept 13, 2015,
    2. William H. Barnes, The Contemporary American Organ 5th Edition, (New York, 1952).
    3. Conversation with a St. Augustine organist, 1974.

Database Entries

There are no entries in the database that describe organs by Chicago Water Motor & Fan Co.

We are always interested in adding to our information about builders and correcting any errors that our Database may contain. If you can provide us with corrections or additions to the information presented here, please click the Update button and use the online form to send us details.

Your cooperation and support are greatly appreciated.


OHS Logo

This page was opened in a secondary window or tab. To return to the list of builders, simply close this tab.

Some of our entries are names that might never appear on a nameplate or nameboard.
On the other hand, there are both individuals and firms who are responsible for conserving historic organs through location, or preserving the usefulness of pipe organs through rebuilding or making modifications to existing instruments. In these cases, we are proud to acknowledge their contributions to the ongoing artistic tradition of the pipe organ in America through individual entries in our online database.