Thursday, January 29, 2015

The little organ the could, did and still can

I had a wonderful time Wednesday afternoon at First United Methodist Church (thanks to Pastor Allen Wiese) taking photos of pump organs, pipe organs and stained glass --- three favorite things. 

This all started with the somewhat obsessive wish to submit photos of the magnificent United Methodist pipe organ (Henry Pilcher's Sons, Opus 543, 1906) to the Organ Historical Society's nationwide pipe organ database. I'll come back to the pipe organ another day.

I started Wednesday in the chapel, located in the northwest corner of the original church (behind that big bay of the 1899-1900 Bedford stone building that projects west toward North Main Street), admiring this beautifully restored and maintained Lakeside pump organ, an early instrument of the congregation.

There are a couple of stories about the organ, but because of the near-amazing survival of its 10-year guarantee, dated June 3, 1901, and now framed and displayed with the organ, we know it was purchased during that year from the Geo. W. Pickerel & Son Music Store, then located on the south side of the square. The Pickerels also sold pianos, other musical instruments, sheet music, books and anything else an aspiring musician might need.

Most likely this was a transitional instrument for the congregation. The big stone church was completed in 1900, but the pipe organ was not installed until 1906. And while an instrument probably was brought to the new building from the older church, demolished to make way for the new one, it may have failed.

Whatever the case, the organ eventually was retired to the church attic where it rested until 1985 when at the urging of Pastor Lynn Ryon, according to a church history, it was brought down, restored by Duane Anderson and returned to service.

The little reed organ, bellows filled with air by the organist pumping foot pedals, has had a far longer life than the company that manufactured it. According to online resources, the Lakeside Organ Co. originated in 1899 in Chicago after a split in the Tryber & Sweetland Organ Co., which already had been producing a "Lakeside" model. Lakeside Organ Co. transitioned before 1904 into the Lakeside Piano Co. which became the Fayette S. Cable Piano Co. during that year. Although Lakeside pianos were manufactured under that name into the 1940s, organ production apparently was suspended.

Whatever the case, it's a beautiful instrument and I'd like to hear it in action someday.

I also ran into some old friends in the chapel on Wednesday, memorialized in stained glass. The windows here are the least complicated in the building, flooding the room with warm light.

One is dedicated to the memory of Amanda E. Collins, wife of Chariton physician David Y. Collins, who died during 1890. He survived until 1916 and although both are buried in the Chariton Cemetery, their graves are not marked. So this window remains as the only known reminder of Amanda in her hometown.

I've written before about the S.B. St. John family. In fact, one of the stops during last fall's Chariton Cemetery Heritage Tour was at the St. John gravesites --- so you can read more about that interesting family, memorialized too in the United Methodist Chapel, here and here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If this is the organ I think it is it was out of the attic while I was in jr. high and high school in the 50s. I used to play on it for Sunday school.