Pipe Organ Database

a project of the organ historical society

William Boone Fleming View Extant Instruments View Instruments

Distinction:

Boston, 1874; Philadelphia 1881 & NYC 1889; Detroit, 1893-1900; Los Angeles 1903; Hoboken, NJ 1905; Philadelphia 1909-27.
Classification: Builder

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November 30, 2016:

From the OHS Database Builders editor, November 30, 2016. -

William Boone Fleming was born November 2, 1849 in New Brunswick, Canada. He worked in Boston, Massachusetts, as a carpenter; he hired with George Ryder of Boston, Massachusetts, October 4, 1874 [where he learned organbuilding]. He went to work with the Roosevelt firm branch shop in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on July 26, 1881; later moving to the main facility in New York City, New York, in 1889. Roosevelt Organ Works closed in 1893 and the firms assets were sold to Farrand & Votey of Detroit, Michigan. Fleming continued with the new management after the sale (1893-1900); and then with its successor Aeolian Co. of Garwood, New Jersey, 1900.

Latter in the same year, he moved to California and began with Murray M. Harris of Los Angeles, California; again remaining with a successor firm when Harris was forced out and the firm became Los Angeles Art Organ Co. of Los Angeles, in 1903, with Fleming as the superintendent. The firm had financial difficulties because of the expense of the enormous St. Louis Exposition organ which it had constructed. Its new principal investor, Eben Smith, relocated the firm to Hoboken, New Jersey, 1905; where the firm was reorganized as the Electrolian Organ Co.. After the Electrolian firm failed, Fleming established the short-lived Big Organ Co. to exhibit the St. Louis Exposition organ at Coney Island, New York, c. 1905. When that project failed, Fleming returned to the East and worked for a few years with Reuben Midmer & Son of New York City.

He completed the circle with the St. Louis Exhibition organ when he was lured to the Wanamaker shop of Philadelphia, in September of 1909, where he worked on enlarging the organ he had spent so much time in building in Los Angles. He retired to Pasadena, California December 21, 1927. William Fleming died April 26, 1940 in Altadena, California.

Sources:

  • The basic framework is taken from David Fox's article above with the narrative fleshed out with information from other articles in the Builders Listing (those with links in this article).
  • Email from Jim Stark to editor, received June 14, 2016.

We received the most recent update for this note from Database Manager on September 04, 2019.

October 30, 2004:

From the OHS PC Database, derived from A Guide to North American Organbuilders, revised edition, by David H. Fox (Organ Historical Society, 1997). -

Born November 2, 1849 in New Brunswick, Canada; in Boston, Massachusetts, carpenter; with George Ryder of Boston, Massachusetts, October 4, 1874; with Roosevelt firm branch shop in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 26, 1881; with firm in New York City, New York, 1889; with Farrand & Votey of Detroit, Michigan, 1893-1900; with Aeolian Co. of Garwood, New Jersey, 1900; with Murray M. Harris of Los Angeles, California, 1900; with Los Angeles Art Organ Co. of Los Angeles, California, 1903, superintendent; relocated firm to Hoboken, New Jersey, as the Art Organ Co., 1905; firm reorganized as the Electrolian Organ Co.; established the short-lived Big Organ Co. to exhibit St. Louis Exposition organ at Coney Island, New York, c. 1905; with Reuben Midmer & Son of New York City, New York; with the Wanamaker shop of Philadelphia, September 1, 1909; retired to Pasadena, California Dec. 21, 1927; died April 26, 1940 in Altadena, California.

Patents held:

Patent #536,977; August 2, 1895; electromagnet. (jointly with Edwin S. Votey and William Wood)
Patent #536,978; August 2, 1895; electromagnet.
Patent #547,568; October 8, 1895; electric key action.
Patent #594,391; November 30, 1897; pouch pneumatic.
Patent #643,840; February 20, 1900; electric and tubular action combined.
Patent #666,658; January 29, 1901; electropneumatic action.
Patent #982,419; January 24, 1911; electric action.
Patent #1,146,321; July 13, 1915; automatic organ.
Sources:
  • The Diapason June 1940, 4.
  • The Diapason January 1943, 1.
  • The Diapason May 1971, 18.
  • Orpha Ochse, The History of the Organ in the United States (Bloomington: Indiana University Press) 1975. 358.
  • The American Organist, March 1926, 62.

We received the most recent update for this note from Database Manager on September 04, 2019.

Database Specs:

  • 0 Organs
  • 0 Divisions
  • 0 Consoles

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