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First United Methodist Church, Fairmount, Indiana

Background

In the small town of Fairmount, Indiana, 50 miles north of Indianapolis, First United Methodist Church was established in 1849. A new 14 rank Pilcher tracker organ was purchased in 1911 for $1,600. with nearly half of the funding provided by the Carnegie Foundation. By 1960, the organ was in need of repairs after serving for nearly 50 years, so it was was rebuilt and converted to an electromechanical instrument by the Bielhartz organbuilding firm. After almost 30 more years, in 1998 this 200-member church sought bids to compare the cost of incorporating parts of the organ into a new pipe/ electronic "hybrid" organ against the cost of rebuilding it as an expanded and upgraded "real" pipe organ. To the surprise of many members, they found that they could preserve their pipe organ as a true windblown pipe instrument for a very competitive price. Upon finding that this option would be affordable, the members felt strongly that they wanted to preserve their pipe organ because it was real, and because they knew it would last for generations.

Scope of the Rebuild Project

The firm Reynolds Associates Organ Services, Inc. of Marion, Indiana was contracted in November, 1998 to rebuild and expand the organ. The project included:

  • Rebuilding the existing note actions;

  • Increasing the number of ranks in the organ from 14 to 20;

  • Rescaling three ranks of strings and revoicing all ranks that were retained;

  • Upgrading the switching and coupler system to Peterson OrgaPlexTM;

  • Installing a Peterson Duo SetTM combination action with 32 memory levels;

  • Adding a MIDI interface;

  • Completely renovating the console;

  • Re-winding the organ and adding a second reservoir;

  • Adding three Peterson electronic pedal extensions (32' Subbourdon, 16' Dulciana, and 16' Double Trompete) because of severely limited space in the organ.

An increase in the total number of ranks was accomplished by retaining 9 of the original ranks, replacing 5 ranks, and adding 6 new ranks. The existing Fagot was revoiced with new shallots and reeds into an excellent Trompete. A second reed, a Rohr Schalmei, was added to the Great along with a Mixture. Mutations were added to the Swell division, and an Unda Maris was added to the Great.

Other Highlights

It was calculated that the replacement value of the pipes saved from the original Pilcher organ and reused in the updated instrument more than exceeded all the money ever spent on the organ. This includes the original purchase price, the cost of the 1960 renovation, and every service call ever made on the instrument over the years!

Thad Reynolds and David Reynolds of Reynolds Associates can be reached by phone or fax at 765.662.3108, or via email at info@reynoldsorgans.com
www.reynoldsorgans.com

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