Updated by John Roper, listing conversations with this person as the source of the information: Organ Clearing House.
Updated through online information from James R. Stettner.
Updated through online information from David Russo. -- The organ at St. John-s was originally Opus 210 of the George S. Hutchins Co. of Boston, an instrument of two manuals and pedal, built in 1890. It was a mechanical action (tracker) organ placed in the front of the church top the left of the chancel.
What is now the central portion of the façade, containing 28 pipes belonging to the 16 and 18-foot principal stops of the Great, beginning at 12-ft. F, was that portion of the façade originally falling across the choir, between the end of the side gallery and the front wall. The "impost levelâ€? of the façade was flush with the lower edge of the front of the side gallery.
While there was no "caseâ€? housing the organ in the traditional sense, the organ was nonetheless placed against a corner of the sanctuary, and the two walls functioned as reflecting surfaces for at least some of the interior pipes.
The console may originally have been detached, facing the choir; the bellows was powered by a water motor. It has not yet been possible to trace the original stop list of the instrument, although it is likely that the specification for the years 1930-1967 is indeed the original one, except for the addition of several extra couplers, added in 1930.
In that year, Hook & Hastings Company (shortly before its bankruptcy), moved the organ to its position in the rear gallery and, keeping with the fashion of the time, electrified the playing action and stop action, while retaining the original slider wind chests. The organ was also given a new electropneumatic console.
It is highly likely that some re-voicing was done to the pipes at that time, but there is no documentation extant describing this. In any case, the sound of the original pipes would have been considerably altered by the electrification of the action and by the removal of the organ to the recesses of the rear gallery.
Everett Titcomb was apparently of the opinion that the organ had a different character than before, as he referred to the instrument as a Hook & Hastings organ, rather than a Hutchings, when the work was completed.
Recordings of the instrument prior to its rebuilding by Philip Beaudry in the 1960s, reveal a thick and opaque tone, in some ways similar to that of cinema organs of the early 1900s.
Well before the early 1960s, the electric action was showing signs of serious deterioration, and the building of a new mechanical-action instrument was eventually contemplated, along with other options.
Several builders, among them the eminent Dutch organ builder D.A. Flentrop, submitted designs for a new organ. At least two of these proposals included a Rückpositiv division to be mounted on the gallery rail. Because of the expense involved in the building of a new organ, this project was never undertaken; instead, the organ was rebuilt over a period of several years by a local builder, Philip Beaudry, with a view towards economy.
Beaudry-s work consisted of making tonal alterations to the existing pipes, installing pipes from other organs, extensive repairs to the 1930 mechanism and moving the console to the center of the gallery from the epistle side of the building. The Open Diapason 16- of the pedal (wooden pipes) was sold to Charles Fisk, who used it to build the case for the Harvard organ. The rebuilt organ at St. John-s was re-dedicated in 1967. Subsequent work by Beaudry included further tonal alterations and the re-trackerization of the organ, so that the organ again had mechanical action as it had between 1890 and 1930. The work was completed in the early 1970s.
In 1993, an organ committee was established to consider whether to replace the organ. In light of the various changes to the organ and the nature and degree of the ongoing repairs to it, the parish decided to seek proposals from organ builders on a new organ for St. John-s. After an exhaustive analysis of the proposals received, the committee recommended that Paul Fritts of Tacoma, Washington be selected to build the new organ. Ultimately, the Vestry felt that the cost of approximately $400,000 was too prohibitive and the modified 1890 Hutchings organ remained.
The original builder was George S. Hutchings (1891, Opus 210).
Moved to the gallery and converted to electric action by Hook & Hastings in 1930.
The Beaudry work was rebuilding the Geo. S. Hutchings/Hook & Hastings organ with tracker action.