Aeolian-Skinner Organ

A HISTORY OF THE PARISH ORGANS with Specifications for the 1931 E M Skinner and 1940 Aeolian-Skinner Organs

Trinity Episcopal Church, Haverhill, was organized in 1855 and the building on White Street dates from 1856. At this time instrumental music, sung Psalms and the singing of hymns and various liturgical texts had become common in Episcopal Churches. From the history of the organs, it is clear that members of Trinity parish long have valued fine music.
The first organ at Trinity was by the notable builder William Stevens, in 1857. This probably was a one manual instrument, and no stop list is available. The debt on this organ was liquidated in 1859.The church’s second organ was by another important builder, George H. Ryder, opus 131, in 1886. This was a two-manual organ and the cost was $2500. Robert Reich, of the Andover Organ Company, recounts having seen a photograph of the Ryder organ, in the historical collection at the Haverhill Public Library. In the photograph the console was partly obscured by people standing in front of it, but it appeared that the organ had twelve to sixteen ranks of pipes.The church building was enlarged in 1929 and a new organ was installed, built by E M Skinner, in 1931. This was the Mary Porter Wardwell Memorial Organ and it served the parish until the fire of 1969. Following are the specifications:

Builder:  E M Skinner Organ Co., Opus 853, 1931

Number of manuals:  3
Number of stops:            41
Number of ranks:            33
Number of pipes:            2,422
Great            16'            Gemshorn          61
            8'            First Diapason                61
            8'            Second Diapason            61
            8'            Flute Harmonique           61
            8'            Erzahler                           61
            4'            Octave                             61
            4'            Flute                                61
            II            Mixture                           122
            16'            Bourdon                        73
            8'            Diapason                         73
            8'            Rohrflote                         73
            8'            Salicional                         73
            8'            Voix Celeste                    73
            8'            Flauto Dolce                    73
            8'            Flute Celeste                    61 tc
            4'            Flute Triangulaire            73
            III            Mixture                           183
            16'            Waldhorn                       73
            8'            Trumpet                           73
            8'            Oboe                                73
            8'            Vox Humana                    73
            4'            Clarion                             73
            8'            Violin Diapason                73
            8'            Concert Flute                    73
            8'            Dulciana                            73
            8'            Unda Maris                        61 tc
            4'            Flute                                  73
            2 2/3'            Nazard                          61
            8'            Tuba                                   73
            8'            Clarinet                              73
            32'            Resultant                           --
            16'            Diapason                           32
            16'            Bourdon                            32
            16'            Gemshorn                         GT
            16'            Echo Lieblich                   SW
            8'            Octave                                 12
            8'            Gedeckt                               12
            8'            Still Gedeckt                       SW
            4'            Flute                                    12
            16'            Trombone                          32
Source: THE DIAPASON, May 1931,
via Steve Bournias

Trinity Church underwent lengthy repair and reconstruction following the 1969 fire. An electronic substitute instrument was used from then until 1990 when Aeolian-Skinner’s opus 998, built in 1940 for Bradford College, Bradford, was relocated to Trinity.

Opus 998 was built for Denworth Hall at Bradford (then Junior) College. Frederick Johnson played the dedicatory recital on Friday, June 14, 1940.  Mr. Johnson’s impressive program included works by Bach, de Grigny, Clerambault, Pachelbel, Loeillet, Franck, Lyon, Titcomb, Bingham, Bonnet, Karg-Elert, Lee, Jacob and Widor!The organ was known as the “Cornelia Warren Memorial Organ” (the memorial plaque remains on the left-hand side of the instrument’s console), after the trustee whose 1926 bequest paid a significant portion of its purchase price.  It was regularly played for many years before gradually falling into disuse and ultimately disrepair.In 1989 a combination of circumstances brought the organ, and Bradford College’s interest in selling it, to Trinity parish’s attention.  With the help of Scott Sykes, Trinity’s organist, Mark Peterson of the music faculty at Bradford, and Thad Outerbridge, who ultimately moved the instrument, the organ’s historical significance and enormous potential were recognized.  Trinity’s Vestry decided to acquire it as the final replacement for the Skinner (the 1940 Aeolian-Skinner is of remarkably the same size as the 1931 Skinner had been).G. Donald Harrison (mentioned above) designed this instrument and his signature plate is on the console.  In recent years much has been written about and recordings have been made on Harrison’s surviving Aeolian-Skinner instruments. However, Opus 998, perhaps because it had fallen into disuse before the renewal of interest in Harrison’s work, remained obscure.The parish and Mr. Outerbridge decided to make no tonal alterations to the organ, other than regulation. Even so the move from Bradford College involved both craftsmanship and high-tech challenges.  Fortunately, though barely playable in 1989 (one division, badly damaged by rain, ciphered on every note), most of the instrument’s leather was in excellent condition.  This no doubt was thanks to the College’s remote heating plant, which limited the organ’s exposure to damaging furnace gasses.  In fact, the chest actions are all playing on their original leather today!

In the course of the move certain reservoirs were restored, the console re-leathered, and a new blower installed.  A solid-state, digital, multilevel system, occupying one cubic foot in the console cabinet, replaced the electro-pneumatic-mechanical memory system for combination pistons that formerly occupied a room of its own, and a second digital system drew into one area the couplers, cut-outs, relays, and switches formerly disposed in five separate locations.

Local musicians who remembered the instrument in its Bradford College location recalled it as “gentle” and “ladylike” in character.  Today, in the smaller, acoustically brighter space at Trinity, the organ, while still capable of great subtlety, has considerably more authority.Among the organs designed by G. Donald Harrison are those in the Church of the Advent, Boston (1935) and the Groton School (1935), both of which include Positiv divisions, then a daring innovation.  Opus 998 also includes a delightful six-stop Positiv, visible at the very front of the organ chamber. The organ’s specifications are as follows:


GREAT               Quintade            16'
            Principal                   8'                       
            Flute Harmonique    8'
            Octave                      4'
            Quint                        2 2/3'
            Super Octave           2'
            Fourniture               IV
            Geigen                     8'
            Bourdon                  8'
            Viole de Gambe      8'
            Voix Celeste            8'
            Octave Geigen         4'
            Flauto Traverso        4'
            Cymbel                    III
            Fagott                      16'
            Trompette                 8'
            Vox Humana            8'
            Clairon                     4'
            Swell 16; Swell 4; Swell Unison Off
      Concert Flute                 8'
            Dolcan                     8'
            Spitz Flöte                4'
            Krummhorn              8'
            Choir 16; Choir 4; Choir Unison Off
Nason Flute                           8'
            Rohr Flöte                 4'
            Nasat                         2 2/3'
            Principal                    2'
            Terz                           1 3/5'
            Sifflöte                       1'
            Positiv Unison Off
      Resultant                           32'
            Principal                      16'
            Bourdon                      16'
            Quintade                     16'
            Spitz Principal             8'
            Quintade                      8'
            Koppel Flöte                4'
            Choral Bass                (4’) from Mixture
            Block Flöte                  2'
            Mixture                        IV
            Posaune                       16'
            Trompette                     8'
            Clairon                         4'           
SUMMARY:  Stops    Ranks    Pipes
GREAT                   7      10        610
SWELL                 11       13       913
CHOIR                   4         4       244
POSITIV                 6        6       366           
PEDAL                   7       10      344
TOTALS                35      43      2477
Console Mechanicals
Great to Pedal 8; Swell to Pedal 8; Choir to Pedal 8; Positiv to Pedal 8; Swell to Pedal 4;
Choir to Pedal 4; Choir to Great 8; Positiv to Great 8, Swell to Great 16; Swell to Great 8; Swell to Great 4; Positiv to Swell 8; Swell to Positiv 16; Swell to Positiv 8; Swell to Positiv 4
REVERSIBLES            Great to Pedal 8; Swell to Pedal 8; Choir to Pedal 8; Positiv to Pedal 8; Swell to Great 8;
            Choir to Great 8; Positiv to Great 8; Swell to Positiv 8
8 MEMORY LEVELS –             capture system
SOLID STATE Combination Pistons
            Swell – 7; Great – 7; Choir/Positiv – 9; Pedal – 7; General - 10
            A.  Pedal to Manual
            B.  Sw., Gt., Ch/Pos, to Pedal
            C.  Pedal to Pedal (on/off)
            Set; General Cancel (2);             Adjustable Tutti (2); Ventil
Trinity Church is grateful to have the stewardship of this fine instrument.  Bequests have endowed the organ’s maintenance and also provide for occasional organ recitals.  The organ is a central element in the church’s worship and the congregation invites you to hear it both at services and in recitals.
 T.H.H. Outerbridge and M.T. Crapsey, II (1991)
Edited by Joyce Painter Rice (2001 and 2009) and Sarah Brink (2010)

Contributing information from Dr. Charles Callahan and Ro

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