St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, Crownsville, MD
St. Stephen's Episcopal Church is spread over three buildings in a
forested area, the original of which dates back to the mid-1800's.
Some of its membership goes back six or seven generations.
Much traveled instrument: The pipe organ was originally built
in 1930 for the ballroom of the Shoreham Hotel in downtown
Washington, D.C. by M.P. Moller, pipe organ builders of Hagerstown,
Maryland. It was used for weddings, dances and other events there.
Sold in 1950 to Westminster Presbyterian Church of Alexandria; sold
in 1965 to Bush Hill Presbyterian Church of Alexandria. Each time,
the pipe organ had been enlarged and improved. In 1995, Bush Hill
Presbyterian Church bought a new organ and put this one up for sale.
Nancy Betz, Westminster Presbyterian's organist, saw the ad and went
to Bush Hill to try the organ. She loved the instrument. Bush Hill
Presbyterian Church agreed to give the organ to St. Stephen's for
free if they could do the removal.
Congregants' work made it possible: Many talented members of the congregation pitched in to remove the pipe organ from Bush Hill
and bring it to the workshop of Lewis & Hitchcock, organ builders
headquartered in Virginia, who have restored many of Maryland's old
pipe organs. Gary McIlwain, a cabinetmaker in the congregation,
built a new case of cherry wood for the organ, featuring facade
pipes, in colonial style, to match the room. The Pastor gave up his
new study in order to make room for the organ chamber. A secret
door permits access to the organ chamber.
Organ upgraded, updated, and installed: In addition to moving
and installing the organ in its new location, the organ was enhanced
by: removal of the electro-pneumatic key action and switching
system; installation of solid state relay switching panel;
releathering; and cleaning all pipes.
Tremendous difference to Church's music program: Nancy Betz
reports, "Since the installation of our pipe organ, our services
have been dramatically enhanced. Our choir has increased and our
music program has tripled! The congregation used to join in the
hymns with weak singing, but now they love to sing with the organ
and they raise their voices so that you can feel the sense of
community and joy. The pipe organ is sweet to our ears."
Lewis & Hitchcock, Inc.: The organ builder is headquartered in
Virginia and has been building and restoring pipe organs since 1915.
They have worked on instruments in Baltimore and throughout the
Eastern region of the country.
Nancy Betz, organist at St. Stephen's, can be reached at 410 - 721 - 2881.
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