A Rich Tradition
In the midst of the flat cropland of west-central Ohio stands a strikingly handsome red brick church. St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church (LCMS) was built at the turn of the century by and for the German immigrant farmers living near Marysville. In March of 1906, the congregation accepted the proposal of Hann-Wangerin-Weichart Organ Company of Milwaukee to install a new pipe organ in the balcony for $2,240. The organ was dedicated on December 16th of the same year.
Church records indicate that the organ was rebuilt in 1949 and repairs took place in 1994. Despite this work, by the time Muller was contacted in 2011 for tuning and repairs, the organ was in very poor condition. Access for tuning and repairs was very difficult due to ill-conceived additions, and about 25% of the organ was mechanically unplayable. It was determined that installation of an appropriate used pipe organ was the best solution.
The organ from St. Timothy Lutheran, a sister LCMS church located in Chicago, became available after that church was permanently closed. It was built in 1962 by the Schlicker Pipe Organ Company of Buffalo, New York. The tonal character and pedigree of the Schlicker made it an excellent match for an “organ transplant”. Critical to the success of the relocation, we were able to carefully design the layout to fit the Schlicker organ inside St. John’s existing case while leaving plenty of access for tuning and maintenance.
Before installation at St. John’s Church, the two main windchests being retained were thoroughly restored; leather was replaced and the wood was re-sealed. The pipework was washed, repaired, and revoiced to resolve speech issues. New components to complete the organ were constructed as necessary, including a highly effective expression box.
Tonally, the Schlicker was lacking three important sounds for a church instrument. To give a solid bass foundation for leading congregational singing, the 16′ Open Wood pedal stop from the 1906 instrument was restored and reinstalled. A Celeste string rank was added to the Swell division to allow the organist to more effectively imitate the warm sound of a string ensemble. And a new Hautbois was added to provide a quieter reed stop in contrast to the Fagott.
"Our experience with Muller Pipe Organ Company was fabulous! Their expertise in design and workmanship, along with a cooperative and talented team of professionals yielded a finished product that was beyond expectations."
Dale Scheiderer, St. John's Lutheran organist
Love of Pipe Organs
We especially enjoyed this project, in large part due the members of the congregation. Their love of pipe organs and enthusiasm for the organ project will not be soon forgotten.