Henry Vincent Willis View Extant Instruments View Instruments


Born 1890 in England; New York, 1926; Garwood, New Jersey, 1927; St. Louis, MO; Philadelphia, PA; in England, 1933; Highland, IL, c. 1935-1942; died 1973.
Classification: Builder

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October 30, 2004:

From the OHS PC Database, derived from A Guide to North America Organ Builders by David H. Fox (Organ Historical Society, 1991). —

Henry Vincent Willis was born 22 June, 1890 in England; he was the grandson of the founder of the Willis firm in England, Henry 'Father' Willis. He was also a nephew of another English organ builder, David Arthur.

After learning the art of organ building with the family firm, Willis immigrated to U.S. in the 1920s, and worked with several American organ builders beginning with the Welte-Mignon firm of New York in 1926. By the next year (1927), he was with the Aeolian-Votey firm of Garwood, NJ. Then, in short succession over the next four years, he was with Midmer-Losh of Merrick, Long Island, NY; George Kilgen & Son of St. Louis, MO; and the Wanamaker shop of Philadelphia, PA; before returning to the United Kingdom and starting with his uncle, David Arthur in 1933. After two years in England, Willis returned to the U.S. and began his association with the Wicks firm of Highland, IL, circa 1935. He would remain there until 1942; becoming a U.S. citizen in 1938. When the U.S. was drawn into World War II with the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, all building of organs was suspended and organ factories turned to building supplies needed for the war effort. Willis left Wicks and started a new career with McDonnell Douglas aircraft, he remained there until retirement rather than returning to organ building; Willis died 21 January, 1973.

Patent #1,969,591; 7 Aug. 1934; pipe

We received the most recent update for this note from Database Manager on April 09, 2020.

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