In the early 1960s, ardent music lover Martha (Jacoby) Eley commissioned a seven rank Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ for her house in Eureka, California. At a time when house organs were rarely constructed, Mrs. Eley insisted she have a fine pipe organ and perhaps even had to convince Aeolian-Skinner to build the instrument! Two ranks were added a few years later, bringing the total to nine ranks and 621 pipes.
When Mrs. Eley passed away in 2014, the organ was generously donated by her family to the Woodside Cemetery and Arboretum. Because of its age, we releathered the windchests and reservoir, refurbished the console, and installed a new electrical system. After installation, the organ was tonally finished to speak appropriately in its new space.
Installation of the organ necessitated the construction of an organ chamber. Our artisans created ornate, wooden grille-work to cover the tone opening to mimic the unique stained-glass windows in the chancel. The organ is located in the chamber on the right; the grille-work on the left was installed for visual balance.
The organ provided Mrs. Eley with many hours of musical inspiration. In accordance with her wishes, she is buried in her family’s grave site at Woodside Cemetery, not far from the Chapel where her instrument now resides. Her gift is a lasting legacy of her love for music.