McKendree - Simms - Brookland United Methodist Church, Washington, D.C.
The McKendree-Simms-Brookland United Methodist Church grew out of a
merger of three churches and is today one of the largest
African-American churches in the Baltimore-Washington Conference of
the United Methodist Church. The original church was established in
1924, but it did not have a pipe organ until 1948. At that time, a
1936 Moller pipe organ was moved from the residence of George Everett
of Washington, D.C. and installed in the church. The organ had what
was then a typical design: French Horn, Harp, and Chimes all housed in
Why is the Organ Being Rebuilt?
The enhanced pipe organ had been a dream of the music leadership of
the church for many years. Mary Hubbard, the church's organist and
member of its Organ Enhancement Committee, says "We hoped to be able
to perform the great organ literature and a wide range of gospel, as
well as accompany the many soloists, choirs, and congregational
Scope of the Rebuild Project
The rebuild project was first seriously considered in 1990, but work
did not begin until 1992. Since then, Lewis & Hitchcock, Inc. has put
in some 1,300 hours of work, supported by more than 100 hours by
congregants who volunteered primarily in chamber repair and
preparation work. The project, done in stages, was completed in
September, 1997, and included:
Adding 18 ranks;
Releathering of all electro-pneumatic chests;
Building new windchests for the Great, Antiphonal, and Pedal divisions, using electric action;
Addition of MIDI;
Upgrading to Peterson OrgaPlexTM solid state switching and couplers;
Upgrading to Peterson MSP-1000TM solid state combination action;
Improvements were made to enhance the beauty and sound of the pipe organ: the Great and Pedal divisions were exposed in the chancel on new windchests with decorative woodwork designed to match the chancel woodwork. The
Antiphonal division was exposed in the rear Gallery.
Special Fundraising Events
Although the availability of some of the additional pipework and
chests from a 1964 Moller organ made the project possible, several
events raised funds for the rebuilding project: "Pennies for Pipes"
and a "Rock-A-Thon," along with choir concerts, dinner theater, and
concerts by visiting choirs and ensembles. This enabled the work to
continue in stages.
The organ was dedicated on September 28, 1997. A recital was
performed by Mary Hubbard, the church organist, along with David
McCahan, Dave Selby, Sarah Jackson, and Gerald Piercey of Lewis &
Hitchcock, Inc. Pastor Edwin W. Williams said, "We are indebted to
Lewis & Hitchcock, Inc. for their manual labors and for presenting a
special concert on this day of our consecration. It is our fervent
prayer that the beautiful melodious sounds produced by each component
of the new organ will be a reminder from this day forward of the
harmony that may be ours through working together in unity."
Special concerts are held regularly, especially in the summer
months, to demonstrate the versatility of the instrument;
system includes a separate Hammond keyboard as well as an orchestral
sound generator, making the rebuilt organ fully capable of the rich
traditions of authentic pipe organ worship music as well as
A monthly Gospel service features many of the
voices now available on the enhanced organ.
Mary Hubbard may be contacted at McKendree-Simms-Brookland United Methodist Church at 2421 Lawrence St., NE, Washington, D.C. 20017;
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