Pipe Organ Database

a project of the organ historical society

Austin Organ Co.


Strand Theatre
Worcester, MA US
Organ ID: 12685

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Status and Condition:

  • This instrument's location type is: Theatres, Cinemas, Movie Houses
  • The organ has been relocated.
  • The organ's condition is not playable.
We received the most recent update for this instrument's status from Database Manager on September 25, 2019.

Technical Details:

  • Chests: Austin Universal Air
  • 17 ranks. 2 manuals.
  • Chest Type(s): Austin Universal Air chests
  • Position: In center chambers at the front of the room. Facade pipes or case front visible.
We received the most recent update for this division from Database Manager on September 25, 2019.
  • Manuals: 2
We received the most recent update for this console from Database Manager on September 25, 2019.
Database Manager on September 25, 2019:

Updated by Jeffrey Gonyeau, who gave this as the source of the information: I was contacted by Historic Boston Incorporated to come look at the organ after they purchased the building in which it is now located in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston..

Following is information that I have provided to Historic Boston Incorporated, and which I thought it would be helpful to share with the OHS.

Austin Organ Co., Op. 662

Historic Boston Incorporated (HBI) has acquired a disused church at 50 Cedar Street (corner of Hawthorne St.) in the Boston neighborhood of Roxbury, which they plan to redevelop for various non-church uses. The building was built in 1910 as the Norwegian Congregational Church, but later in the century became St. James African Orthodox Church, as has been recently detailed in a history of the church created for and available from HBI.

The church contains a pipe organ, whose console is long gone. There were various electric/electronic instruments present in the former church when HBI bought it, indicating that the pipe organ had not been in use for some time; all of these electric instruments have been discarded.

The pipe organ is in located in the chancel area, behind a screen above an altar table. Kenneth Branagh used the building as a film set for his 1998 film, The Proposition, and his film crew installed the fabric that now hides the organ pipes. However, the exposed pipes can be in a historic photo on p. 12 of HBI\'s church history.

A physical inspection of the organ on June 19, 2019, revealed that the instrument is arranged in two side by side chambers behind the screen, both enclosed with swell shades to allow for expression. As can be seen in the attached photos, it is apparently an Austin organ, and the markings on some Bourdon pipes installed outside the case indicate that it is Austin\'s Opus 662.

According to the Organ Historical Society database and the Austin company database, Op. 662 was built for the Strand Theatre in Worcester, and had 2 manuals, with 17 ranks. Neither source includes a stoplist for the instrument, and neither lists its date of construction. No information could be found about a Strand Theatre in Worcester. Page 20 of HBI\'s church history includes an article from Dec. 9, 1929, referencing a new organ being dedicated at the Cedar St. church. Therefore, it seems safe to assume that the church bought a used theatre organ and installed it in their church setting in 1929.

Except for its missing console, the organ seems to be quite intact, including the Spencer Orgoblo blower in the basement. Photos indicate that some metal pipes are damaged. Water infiltration and resulting deterioration of interior finishes of the building have likely also damaged the instrument in various ways.

Photos referenced in the above description can be made available to supplement this information.

We received the most recent update for this note from Database Manager on September 26, 2019.

Database Manager on January 07, 2005:

Information identifying this instrument from the Austin Organs, Inc. web site, accessed December 29, 2004: http://www.austinorgans.com/organ-research.htm.

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

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