From the church archives record books
On February 2, 1902, the committee appointed to inquire into the merits of different pipe organs brought in the following report: After considering carefully the claims of organ builders, East and West, your committee is blessed to unanimously recommend the purchase of a three-manual organ, of twenty-seven speaking stops, to be built by the Austin Organ Company, of Hartford, Conn., at a cost of Seven Thousand Dollars ($7,000), erected on the church.
The following were members of that original committee: S. D. Spoor, Sura A. Heubbard, Mary B. Sanborn, Mary E. Cornwall, Ross A. Harris, Charles Barnes, N. Leo Lelean, Kirke H. Field, Karl C. Wells and Eldridge M. Syon.
The foregoing report being submitted to the church, it was voted to adopt the report and to erect in this church, at the earliest practicable time, the organ recommended by the committee, and that said committee be discharged. It was also voted that the Pastor appoint a committee of twelve to carry this action of the church into effect.
The committee of twelve mentioned above consisted of Karl Wells, Chairman, M. M. Phinney, A. H. Smiley, K. H. Field, E. G. Judson, Mrs. E. H. Spoor, Mrs. A. G. Heubbard, Mrs. G. W. Bowers, Mrs. C. A. Sanborn, C. S. Hayes, Clinton Curtis, and H. P. D. Kingsbury.
The Austin organ was installed in the church by November 1902, and dedicated on Wednesday, November 5, 1902. The final costs of the organ were near $8,000. The original console was placed at the top and rear of the choir stalls. The first organist for First Congregational was Edith Rounds Smith. Mrs. Smith directed the music for most of the 20 years that she served the church.
A Description of the Austin Organ
Taken from the Program of Inauguration of the Austin Organ
This was the first organ erected in California or vicinity having the new system of wind supply obtained by the Austin Universal Windchest, the letters patent for which were owned solely by the Austin Organ Company at the time. The system was radically different from that in common use in that all weighted bellows tops and wind trunks were done away. The equivalent of the bellows in the Austin system was an airtight room, which in this organ was twenty-two feet long, twelve feet deep, with clear headroom of six feet. Into this room persons could enter through the vestibule, or air lock, while the organ was in use. The air, taken from the organ chamber, was forced in from the outside of the building, the action of the large displacement board which formed one side of the room controlling the motor and insuring an absolute pressure of 100 per cent under all conditions of use. The use of compensated flat steel springs, (original with the builders of the Austin system), and the enormous amount of air under pressure (12 to 20 times that in any other organ this size) contributed to this steadiness of wind.
All the pipes of the organ were placed over this room, and were supplied with wind directly from the main chest. An equal and unvarying pressure was thus always maintained for every pipe. The advantages of this system were: First, a distinct gain in tone quality. All pipes were voiced to speak at a certain wind pressure. Under the old system of limited wind-ways, and heavily weighted bellows tops, in which there was always either inertia or momentum to be overcome, the problem had been to prevent unequal pressure and what was called “robbing” when the full organ, or when many pipes of any given stop were used. In the Austin Windchest this difficulty was entirely eliminated. Absolute and unvarying wind pressure was secured for every stop, the same when the full organ was in use as when a single pipe was being sounded. Second, the advantage of simplicity of construction and accessibility of all the parts of the organ. All the mechanism of the organ was exceedingly simple and was all in sight and within easy reach inside the air chamber. Every valve in the instrument could be removed without the use of even a screwdriver. There was never any excuse for disturbing any pipe, or even of going among them except for tuning.
The prime consideration of an organ was its tone. Having shown how the chief requisite, an adequate wind supply, was provided, attention was called to the twelve-foot open scale, which allowed the pipes to stand on their wind with ample speaking room. The well boxes, ten feet high, allowed all properly open stops their open basses throughout. They were constructed of two thicknesses of heavy lumber, with double deadening felt between, and the vertical shades were carefully fitted, beveled and felted. The unusually good effect justified the expense.
The pipes of the diapason family were inserted mouths up to middle (2 feet) C. The Austin organ was the only one in America in which the scales of the renowned Schulze of Germany, later the founder of the English reputation for diapason tone, were employed. The mixtures are composed of the true natural harmonics of the ground tone, and were made without “breaks.” The wood pipes were of selected white pine, with patent metal toed feet. Given these conditions of perfect wind supply, action, and correct pipes, with Mr. Michell as a voicer, a tone was produced that justly excited the greatest admiration.
Mr. Austin devised a system by which he obtained a complete control of the organ that was little short of marvelous. The unusual number of mechanical accessories were so arranged that all the resources of the organ were at the instant and easy command of the player. The measurements of the Royal College of Organists were followed, except that the builders secured a vertical distance between manuals of but 2 ½ inches (found only in electric organs of a few other builders).
These many features, all perfectly under control of the player, justified the statement that this was not only one of the most complete organs built, but the most modern, as embodying all that modern art and science had devised to perfect the tone quality and bring into use the resources of this most marvelous of musical instruments.
To inaugurate the new organ, a recital was held on November 5, 1902 with Dr. H. F. Stewart, Organist, St. Dominc’s Church, San Francisco, and Solo Organist, Pan American Exposition, Buffalo, NY, 1901, playing. Mrs. Grace Davis Northrup, soprano, sang for the occasion. Although most of us are not musicians or organists, there may be a few who will find the following original specifications of the Austin organ of interest. They are as follows taken from the program of the Inaugural Recital after the organ was installed in 1902:
Major Diapason 16 foot 61 pipes, W. & M.
(12 from No. 25)
- Principal Diapason 8 foot 61 pipes, metal.
- Small Diapason 8 foot 61 pipes, metal.
- Gross Flote 8 foot 61 pipes, wood.
- Octave 4 foot 61 pipes, metal.
- Flute Harmonique 4 foot 61 pipes, metal
- Quint Mixture (12th & 15th) 2 Rk 122 pipes, metal
- Trumpet 8 foot 61 pipes, reed.
Stops 3-8 enclosed in Choir Swell Box
- Bourdon 16 foot 61 pipes, wood.
- Open Diapason 8 foot 61 pipes, metal.
- Viole d-Orchestre 8 foot 61 pipes, metal.
- Echo Salicional 8 foot 61 pipes, metal.
- Voix Celeste 8 foot 49 pipes, metal.
- Stopped Diapason 8 foot 61 pipes, wood.
- Violin 4 foot 51 pipes, metal.
- Echo Cornet 2 foot 61 pipes, metal.
- Cornopean 8 foot 61 pipes, reed.
- Oboe 8 foot 61 pipes, reed.
- Geigen Principal 8 foot 61 pipes, metal.
- Dolce 8 foot 61 pipes, metal.
- Concert Flute 8 foot 61 pipes, wood.
- Flute d’Amour 4 foot 61 pipes, wood and metal.
- Clarinet 8 foot 61 pipes, reed.
Enclosed with portion of great, in a separate swell box
- Great Bass 16 foot 30 pipes, wood.
- Violone 16 foot 30 pipes, wood.
- Bourdon 16 foot 30 pipes, wood
- Bass Flute 8 foot 30 pipes, wood
(18 from No. 24.)
- Violoncello 8 foot 30 pipes, wood and metal.
(18 from No. 25.)
Tilting tablets over Swell manual, grouped
- Swell to Pedal.
- Great to Pedal.
- Choir to Pedal.
- Swell to Choir.
- Choir Sub.
- Choir Super.
- Swell Sub.
- Swell Super.
- Swell to Great.
- Swell to Great Sub.
- Swell to Great Super.
- Choir to Great.
- Choir to Great Sub.
Pedals, locking “Off”
- Swell Unison.
- Great Unison.
- Choir Unison.
- Swell Tremulant
- Choir Tremulant
- Motor Starter
Adjustable, not moving registers, under respective manuals, mutually releasing, indicate by remaining in while in use
- - 51. Four affecting Swell and Pedal Organs.
52. – 52. Four affecting Great and Pedal Organs.
- - 58. Three affecting Choir and Pedal Organs.
- - 61. Three pistons for respective manual groups, red ivory.
- General release for all groups, red ivory.
Under choir manual, right side, mutually releasing
- One rendering pistons 47 – 57 and pedals 64 – 66 “single acting.”
- One rendering pistons 47 – 57 and pedals 64 – 66 “double acting.”
Adjustable, Not Moving Registers, Locking down
- - 66. Three affecting entire organ.
- General release, reducing to stops drawn.
- Great to Pedal Reversible, moving register.
- Sforzando, affecting entire organ without couplers, not moving registers.
- Balanced Crescendo, affecting entire organ without couplers, not moving registers.
- Balanced Swell.
- Balanced Choir
Pitch, International, 435 A. Wind Pressure, 4 inches.
Built by the AUSTIN ORGAN CO., Hartford, Connecticut
The suggestion for the arrangement of gilt pipes and case was made by the late Dr. Charles K. Adams.
Organ Upgrades and Repairs
In 1927, after 25 years, the Austin Organ was rebuilt and enlarged, adding additional ranks of pipes and updating the console to a new electric action, with a new blower, generator and engines and it was brought down to the main floor of the Sanctuary. The newly rebuilt organ was dedicated on November 13, 1927. Much of the money to rebuild and add the additional rank of pipes was given by Mrs. E. W. Shirk, who contributed over $5,000 along with other combined gifts from friends of Dr. J. H. Williams toward the project. The organ upgrade and the remodeling of the sanctuary was dedicated as a memorial to Mrs. Shirk’s husband and also to Dr. Williams who was for 30 years Pastor and Emeritus Pastor of this Church.
From the dedication program the following was taken:
GREETINGS FROM YOUR ORGAN
You hear my voice again after months of silence, I hope more beautiful and inspiring than ever. To all the lovely tones, which have enabled me to speak to your hearts in the past, are added many more to enrich, beautify and increase my message. With you I look back upon our life together with thankfulness, and likewise I look with you down the vista of the coming years with keen anticipation. Few are here who heard my voice a quarter century ago, when first the master hand touched me into life and beauty. I hope many of you will go with me down all the next twenty-five years.
What a joy to have been a vital part of our church life; to have interpreted the hymns and anthems, the compositions of Bach and Handel, Mendelssohn and Widor; to have pealed out the joyous wedding song; to have spoken a message of undying faith and courage to mourning friends; to have expressed the faith of new recruits in the Lord’s service; to have welcomed the dedication of little children in the family of the church; to have lifted the souls of the weary and disheartened and sent them forth to laugh and lift and strive again.
Tender memories come before me of those who touched my keys with loving hands, of those who joined their voices with mine in songs of praise, of those who listened and were uplifted. I see again the faces I have loved through the decades. Some now are transfigured. Age has touched others, but the beauty of their devotion, their loving service and their true friendship abide. Men come and go, but with all the changes, my voice speaks to the passing generations of the things which do not pass away. I bind them all together into one noble fellowship of music and faith and high endeavor.
I am glad to be a living memorial of those who loved beauty, to keep alive in memory the ministries of love, and to awake through the year eternal harmonies in the hearts of those who worship. “Come now and let us make a joyful noise unto the God of our salvation.”
The rebuilt organ did not only enhance the sanctuary, but the whole sanctuary was beautified with additional remodeling. The side walls were freshly tinted a pale buff, a handsome new carpet with special acoustical padding installed, and beautiful new grillwork to disguise the organ pipes and matching grillwork above the arch into the Sunday school department was installed.
The entire cost of these improvements amounted to $17,100. That is quite a difference when you compare the costs of remodeling and rebuilding an organ in 1999 – 2000, when we are talking in terms of over $450,000 just for a new, or updated organ with additional ranks and remodeling the choir loft.
The next major overhauls to the organ came in 1964. At a cost of approximately $25,000 repairs were made and a new console was built by Austin Organs, Inc. No additional ranks were added at this time.
In 1972 the Coronation Carillon was added to the organ and dedicated to Mark K. Shirk. (See next pages for the story of the “Bells” of the church. This was the last major renovation of the organ until presently. The church is presently undergoing remodeling for a new organ and additional ranks and pipes that should be finished in late 2000 or early 2001.
History of the Robert M. Turner Organ
Carol Berard reported to the church Board of Directors in 1996 that the Austin organ was requiring upwards of $10,000 a year in maintenance, with major renovation in sight. She noted that several ranks were unplayable. Berard and music director Bruce McClurg pointed out that new ranks were needed to brighten the tone from its original romantic, muffled sound.
The board of directors allocated $2,000 for the initial gathering of information from organ experts. The Organ Selection Committee of volunteers was chaired by Dr. Richard Rau and included Berard, McClurg, Nelda M. Stuck, Bud Miner, Jane Hawkins, John Howard, John Runkel, Ed Houston and Ray Mills.
The committee met nearly a dozen times from October 1996 to the final vote March 17, 1999, to hear presentations from several organ builders, to visit four churches to inspect their organs, and to hear the organs demonstrated and in concert. Some 35 members of the church enjoyed a charter bus trip to Santa Monica to see a demonstration of the Robert Turner organ at the Santa Monica Methodist Church and then went on to see a pipe and electronic organ at Bel Air Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles.
The committee gradually concluded that our 100-year-old church needed to offer the kind of music a pipe organ can give, and that the area’s major organists only want to perform on pipe organs.
Robert Turner, whose workshop is in Hacienda Heights, was selected as builder of the new organ and console. The organ called for 43 ranks for $376,000 in pipe work plus $51,133 for the new three-manual console. Two families then contributed additionally for the ????-pipe trompette en chamademounted at the back of the sanctuary.
Monte L. Stuck chaired the half million-dollar fund raising, which was given a substantial initial boost with the $140,000 bequest from the Jordan Engberg estate. Some 30 families donated $5,000 or more each.
Robert Carothers was appointed contractor for the project, with included many weeks of removing pipes and organ framework as well as plaster and lathe, re-enforcing support studs, installing insulation, wallboard, and painting. Several truckloads of refuse from the demolition were hauled away.
Ed Houston and Raymond Mills co-chaired the renovation of the choir loft, moving the entire loft forward three feet so that there would be more room in the pipe chamber and elevating and extending the entire four choir rows out into the sanctuary to bring out more choir sound.
The actual rebuilding contract was signed in the fall of 1999 with an estimated completion of 12-15 months. The organ was actually completed just in time for The Spinet Redlands music organization’s organ recital meeting to which the public was invited in May 2002.
The completed organ contains 50 ranks and 3,130 pipes. Carol Berard gave a demonstration program August 25, 2002, which was followed by a PowerPoint presentation of photos taken over the three-year construction process and by an ice cream/cake social.
Four official dedication programs were scheduled including Carol Berard on September 22, 2002; Kimo Smith on November 17, Thomas Murray on March 16, and a fourth to be announced.
The First Congregational Church of Redlands, founded in 1880 broke ground for its early church on Cajon Street in 1890, and expanded to build its sanctuary in 1899.
By February 1902, a 12-member committee was investigating the merits of various organ builders and unanimously recommended the purchase of a three-manual (27 speaking stops) organ to be built by the Austin Organ Company of Hartford, Conn., for $7,000. Among those serving on the committees to select the builder and to carry out the plan approved by the congregation were such well-known Redlands citizens as M.M. Phinney, A.H. Smiley,Kirke H. Field, Eldridge M. Lyon, S.D. Spoor, and H.P.D. Kingsbury.
The Austin organ was installed in the church by November 1902 and dedicated November 5 with final costs nearly $8,000. Edith Rounds Smith, the first organist for First Congregational and one of the best-known of area organists, directed the music for nearly 20 years.
This first Austin to be built on the West Coast was the first organ erected in California having the new patented Austin system of wind supply. The airtight wind chest room which replaced the customary bellows provided a constant supply of air for the pipes.
A new electric blower was installed in 1927 and new chests and pipe work added. The console was brought down to the main floor of the sanctuary at this time. Much of the money to rebuild and add the additional pipes was given by Mary Kimberly Shirk. The pitch of the organ was also raised to A440 – the present international pitch.
The next major overhaul to the organ came in 1964, with $25,000 covering the costs of a new Austin console and organ repairs.
In 1972, the Coronation Carillon was added and dedicated to Mary Kimberly Shirk. This was the last major renovation until the turn of the 21 st century.
Edith Rounds Smith served as organist until 1921, followed by Anna Blanche Foster until 1939; Bette Virginia Paine/Marti until 1943 or ’44; Richard Stanley from 1945 to the early 1950s; Erwin Ruff beginning in 1955; Kathryn Knapp James from 1961-1974 and later; Dorothy Hester from 1977 to 1990, and Carol Cutler Berard from 1990 to the present.
By Nelda M. Stuck
Robert Turner with new console “in the rough”
Robert Carothers, organ loft construction chief,
with pipes to be rebuilt
Organ loft completed, with insulation in place
Organ components arrive in Redlands via
Moving new console into the sanctuary
New organ pipe mounts
Electronic/PVC piping construction
One of the many boxes of pipes stored for
installation on our new organ.
The beautiful new console being created in the
Chamade – A French term applied to reed stops,
usually of powerful character, tubes of which
Our parishioner, the late Bob Carothers,
oversaw and guided the entire construction process.
Robert M. Turner Organ