First Parish in Needham Unitarian-Universalist
23 Dedham St.
Needham, MA 02492 US
Sanctuary; rear gallery
Organ ID: 72772
In a conversation with Patrick Murphy as to the organ's origins, he purchased the organ as a speculation project from an employee of the Columbia Organ Co., who owned it for an unknown number of years and had it in a home studio. How this gentleman came into possession of the organ and if it existed in any other location after Moravia, N.Y. still needs to be sorted out. While the Hook opus list cites the organ as built for an Episcopal church in Moravia, there is today a St. Matthew's Episcopal in that town with what appears to be a Jardine-style case front. The organ was sold to Needham through the Organ Clearing House and installed by them in Needham. Scot Huntington and Robert Barney were engaged by OCH to do the tonal finishing and final tuning.
The parish website (Music-in-Worship) states, "First Parish is fortunate to have a beautifully restored 1884 organ by Hook & Hastings, the premier organ builders at the time our Meetinghouse was moved to its present site in 1879. This two-manual, seven-rank instrument has been completely restored by Patrick J. Murphy Organs of Stowe, Pennsylvania. Funds for the instrument came from a bequest by the late Elizabeth Bradford Storer, a member of our Choir for over 60 years, and from matching gifts by members and friends. The organ was installed in August 2005."
This instrument was relocated to Needham through the Organ Clearing House, John Bishop Director where it replaced an electronic. The original Hutchings had been parted out and the chassis recycled by the Berkshire Organ Company to the Trinitarian Congregational Church in Concord, Mass. in the late 1980s, where it now sits mute and unused, supplanted by a new Noack several years ago.
The Hook & Hastings is largely unaltered, save for the installation of slide tuners and the loss of the original reservoir at some point in its past and now has a new supply-house reservoir. The facade pipes are unfinished zinc, but the evidence of the original stenciling can be seen etched in the zinc. The original high pitch of A450 is intact. The simple case of walnut has some of the most beautiful walnut this author has ever seen.
There are several anomalies with this instrument. First, the keyboards had key-dip adjusters built into the key cheeks-- a system developed by E. & G. G. Hook & Hastings in 1871 and largely abandoned by them ca. 1874-75. Second, the organ has oblique stop knobs and the inserts have Olde English engraving without manual designations. This is the earliest use of this type of a knob I have seen in a Hook instrument (associating with instruments from several years later), and to my knowledge, Hook never employed this style of engraving. The explanation is probably simple- they are either replacements from somewhere along the way, or the purchaser requested them. The use of key dip adjusters they had abandoned a decade earlier is bit of a mystery.
This is a standard 2-7 from the catalog, Style No. 35. The differences between this and those from a decade earlier are refinements in design. By 1881, they had added a Swell to Great Octaves coupler, and the lack of it here is curious. The earlier instruments had a fancier case, and the simple case here is both for economy, and reflecting changes in taste. This organ is erected on a frame, or 'horse', and the case is a separate wrap around. In the first iteration of this design the case is structural, and holds up the chests. The windchests are chromatic and tuning is reached from either end, the upper case panels forming the sides of the Swell box.
The facade pipes are the stopped basses [Quintadena] of the Dulciana and the Open Diapason basses are stopped wood. In the earlier version, the Diapason stopped metal Diapason basses form the facade, and the Quintadena Dulciana basses are inside. A common feature of all the small stock models of the Hastings period, is the unusual construction of the Bourdon 16'. The pipes are arranged on a chromatic chest at the rear of the organ and need to fit in the narrower than normal case width. The pipes are narrow and very deep-- the equivalent of round pipe with a narrow mouth--an cut up rather proportionately high. The resulting tone is not loud, but has intensity with carrying power. These pipes are highly prized by organ builders and rarely appear on the open market.