The OHS Pipe Organ Database

BuilderID 1307

Builder Identification

Born 1854 England; in United States before 1885; Massachusetts ca. 1885-1932.

Additional Notes

  • From the OHS PC Database, derived from A Guide to North American Organbuilders, by David H. Fox (Richmond, Va.: Organ Historical Society, 1991). -

    James Cole was born May 4, 1854 in England; he was an organist. He trained as a voicer with Carlton Michell while still in England. After coming to the United States circa 1880, he started his American career with the firm E. & G.G. Hook & Hastings, of Boston, Massachusetts. Leaving Hook & Hastings in 1886, he partnered with brothers Jesse and James Woodberry in Cole & Woodberry until 1899. He briefly was a partner with Ernest M. Skinner in Skinner & Cole of Boston, Massachusetts, in 1903, lasting six months. He established Cole Church Organ Co. by 1906; was briefly a partner with James E. Treat in Cole & Treat, in 1907. He then established James Cole & Co. of Melrose, Massachusetts; moving to Malden, Massachusetts by 1917, and then to Medford, Massachusetts, in 1925. He was a representative of Welte Organ Co. of New York City, in 1928. The Cole firm was last listed around 1932; he died April 8, 1934 in Melrose, Massachusetts.

    NOTE: Cole used several different forms of his name or his corporate name on nameplates. They cannot reliably be used to date instruments.

    Staff: Arthur W. Birkmaier; Joseph G. Cooper; Frederick J. Flaherty; John E. Linhares; Frederick I. White.


    • The Diapason, February 1914, 9.
    • The Diapason, January 1917, 17.
    • The Diapason, August 1928, 42.
    • The Diapason, June 1934, 16.
    • Holden, Dorothy, The Life and Work of Ernest M. Skinner (Richmond, VA: The Organ Historical Society) 1985. 27. [This is the editor's supposition, in Fox's Guide, the abbreviation used is H which is not listed in the table of sources, HO [Holden] is the only source listed using an H.]
    • Orpha Ochse, The History of the Organ in the United States (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1975), 247.
    • Barbara Owen, The Organ in New England (Raleigh: Sunbury Press, 1979), 400.
    • Barbara Owen.

  • For further information, see: Cole & Woodberry, and E. & G.G. Hook & Hastings,

Database Entries

There are 16 entries in the database that describe organs by James Cole.

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