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First United Methodist Church, Monrovia, CA

Background

This organ, originally an 11 rank tubular pneumatic instrument built by the Murray M. Harris Company of Los Angeles in 1911, is the oldest pipe organ in the city of Monrovia. It had not been playable since 1994 due to failing windchests and damage caused by the 1994 Northridge Earthquake. A previous rebuild attempt had included replacing the original freestanding enclosure with a poorly constructed 2X4 and Celo-tex chamber and resulted in the fascade pipes and casework above the impost leaning out over the Choir. In October, 1998 the Pasadena area church's 380 congregants began seriously considering undertaking a rebuild of the instrument. Subsequently an organ committee lead by Fernando Westre, Director of Music Ministries, selected D.H. Cable & Associates, Pipe Organ Craftsmen for the job.

Scope of the Rebuild Project

Work on this sizeable project was begun on August 1, 2000. Under the direction of the organ builders the chamber was rebuilt and faced with 3/4 inch MDF inside and out; the brick rear wall of the chamber was repaired; and the case was brought forward in order to make the fascade pipes and casework plumb. The fascade pipes were stripped and refinished by members of the congregation. The builders fabricated new main and offset chests (with the exception of the Pedal 16' Bourdon chest which had been replaced 15 years earlier). A total of eight ranks of pipes were brought in to replace and augment the original pipework, with all required voicing and rescaling handled by the Cable firm. A new Peterson "OrgaPlexTM" switching and coupler system and a MIDI interface were installed to upgrade and modernize the controlling aspects of the instrument. By the completion date of July 17, 2001, approximately 1600 hours of labor had been logged, including about 250 hours of work performed by members of the congregation. A summary of the upgrades includes:

*Rebuilding the chamber and providing new surfaces of dense, rigid material; also making other structural improvements

*Stripping and refinishing the fascade pipes

*Fabricating new main and offset windchests; providing new note actions

*Refurbishing original pipes found in the blower room during the organ's removal, and providing 2-1/2 octaves of new replacement pipes, to restore the Great 4' Octave rank

*Replacing the Salicional with an E.M.Skinner Viola

*Rescaling the original Salicional, which had a badly damaged bottom octave, to serve as a Voix Celeste

*Providing an E.M.Skinner 2-2/3' Nazard and 1-3/5' Tierce

*Installing an Mixture from a late 1930's Moller in the Great and voicing it to match the Harris Diapasons

*Upgrading the couplers and switching to a Peterson OrgaPlexTM system

*Adding a Peterson MIDI Resource SystemTM

Other Highlights

Part of the funding for this organ project was raised by hosting a series of concerts over the course of nearly two years, with all of the proceeds going into the organ fund.

An Organ Rededication Concert is tentatively scheduled for October 21, 2001 at 4:00 PM. Peter Bates, Minister of Music at Covenant United Presbyterian Church of Long Beach, will be the organist.

You may reach Douglas H. Cable, owner of D.H. Cable & Associates Pipe Organ Craftsmen, at P.O. Box 92842, Long Beach, California 90809-2842. You can also contact him by phone at (562) 492-1214; by fax at (562) 492-9534; or via email at cableorgans@earthlink.net.



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