Wake Forest Baptist Church Pipe Organ Renovation Project
written by W. Ryan Keith
The purpose of the organ renovation & updating project was to enhance the organ’s tonal resources, correct the pitch, and rebuild/upgrade the worn-out organ console.
At the September, 20th, 1916 Wake Forest Baptist Church business meeting a committee was formed to see about securing a pipe organ for the new church building. The committee was chaired by Dr. H.M. Poteat and included church members R. L. Brewer and T.E. Holding. The next month, it was voted to start a movement to raise $5000.00 for the purchase of a pipe organ. The committee appointed other members of the church to secure subscriptions to cover the cost of the organ. Later that month, Dr. Poteat reported that with the exception of $26.00, the $5000.00 needed to purchase the organ had been secured in pledges. A vote was taken and the committee was authorized to purchase an organ, the price not to exceed the amount authorized including $1000.00 to be paid by Wake Forest College. (1)
In April of 1917 the installation of the pipe organ was completed by Henry Pilcher’s Sons Organ Company of Louisville, Kentucky. The sequential number for the instrument was listed as Opus 930. It consisted of three manuals and 22 stops/ranks of pipes and electro-pneumatic action. (2)
Since its installation there have been several small modifications to the pipe organ. (3)
The Renovation Project:
Former Music Minister David Fitzgerald and organist Dr. Jeanine Skinner identified the need for pipe organ renovations and updating. David solicited bid quotes from four organ service providers. Plans began for fund raising and in January, 2014 an “Organ Fund” line item was added the Music Ministry budget.
In August of 2014, Bryant Moxley joined Wake Forest Baptist Church as Music Minister. Bryant, working with a newly formed Music Instrument Team chaired by Jay Davis, the four bid replies were evaluated and two were selected for updated responses. After a careful review and site visits, a contract was awarded to John Dower of Lincoln Pipe Organs located in Lincolnton, North Carolina. The renovation work began in the Fall of 2015 with the removal of the organ pipes and the console.
To enhance the organ’s tonal resources, some existing pipes were re-conditioned and others were replaced with pipes from the decommissioned Austin Opus 2381 pipe organ at First Baptist Church of Clarendon, Arlington, Virginia,(4). Additional digitally recorded pipe organ voices from the Walker Technical Company were installed including a Festival Fanfare Trumpet. A new silent blower was installed in the pipe loft to provide additional wind for the pipes.
The old worn out organ console works were removed. The furniture case was refinished and updated with three new manuals of 61 keys, new pedal board of 32 keys, new draw knob assemblies, new coupler rail with tilting tablets, new pistons, a new switching system and MIDI jacks.
That which was once worn out is now renewed and ready to lead musical praises to God.
Expressions of Praise:
Psalm 150 King James Version (KJV)
1 Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.
2 Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.
3 Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.
4 Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
5 Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
6 Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.
Additional Information Sources:
- Wake Forest Baptist Church minutes of church conferences Volume 2, 1876-1918 & Volume 3, 1918-1939 on file at TheZ.SmithReynolds Library, Archive and Special Collections, Wake Forest University in Winston Salem, North Carolina.
- Wake Forest Baptist Church, Wake Forest, North Carolina
Henry Pilcher’s Sons, Opus 930, 1917
Organ Historical Society Pipe Organ Database ( ID # 17335 )
- First Baptist Church of Clarendon, Arlington, Virginia
Austin Organs, Inc., Opus 2381, 1969
Organ Historical Society Pipe Organ Database ( ID# 11545 )