History of my residence pipe organIn the 1960's David James, a resident of Dekalb, IL answered an advertisement in the Diapason magazine requesting bids for a church organ. A Lutheran church, North of Chicago, was preparing for a new organ and wanted someone to bid on removing the old pipe organ. Mr. James received the bid after the first person left the organ half removed and the bill unpaid. The organ was 11 ranks(each rank is one set of pipes) and built by the Bennett Organ Company of Rock Island, IL. The organ filled his 3 car garage and a local builder in Freeport, IL was contacted to help. The builder in Freeport needed a small job and took some pipes in return for consolidating the 11 ranks into 7 ranks for the living room in Dekalb.
The organ was again stored when the James' family made moves to Chicago and Clarinda, IA. In 1977 the family located in Broken Bow, NE. The house, being smaller, required a change to the organ. In the early 1980's, David James contacted Nordlie Pipe Organ Builders of Sioux Falls, SD. He brought the organ to the shop where it was sorted. The size of the house necessitated a smaller organ. The original Bennett console driven by pneumatics was too large for the home so Nordlie located a used console. A smaller console by Edmund Verlinden of the Wangerin Organ Company in Milwaukee was used. In cutting down the organ to just 3 ranks, the original eletro-pneumatic windchests were scrapped in favor of designing a new compact windchest with electric action. Of the original Bennett church organ only the pipes remained.
Installed in the James house was an organ of 3 ranks(Salicional of 85 pipes, Flute of 97 pipes, and a Principal of 73 pipes). Later an Austin Orchestral Oboe purchased through an ad in the Diapason and a chest of 73 notes was added. In 2004, I acquired the organ from David James. Included with the organ, was an extra rank of Celeste pipes that were not installed. In the fall of 2004 I replaced the principal, a cut-off string rank, with a Gemshorn and started planning for future changes.
I was interested in adding the Celeste so Eric Grane of Nordlie took the set back to their shop and did some voicing to see if is was a viable match to the Salicional. We decided it could be used in the organ. If we were going to build another windchest for the Celeste rank I began to think what other ranks would complete the organ. I wanted another flute that would contrast with the wooden Gedeckt. A used Rohrflute(Chimney flute) became available made by Schlicker. I spent a day looking through used pipes at the Hendrickson organ company in St. Peter. We found a Sesquialtera by Gieseke and planned to use it as a mixture. Later after doing more work on the pipes we decided they were more flute like in quality and decided to break them up into separate ranks. This became my 1 3/5' and 2 2/3' ranks.
I looked all over the used market for a good Principal and small mixture. Overall most scales were too large for a house organ(too loud) and many pipes had heavy nicking(can cause the sound to be dull). I wanted a nice clear Principal for playing Baroque music. The opportunity came, through Nordlie, to order them new from Gebruder Kas pipemakers in Bonn, Germany. This way we could order exactly what we wanted. We ordered extra pipes to complete the ranks of the 1 3/5' and 2 2/3', a new 2' Principal, a 4' Principal and a 2 rank mixture.
I completely removed the organ from the basement in the winter of 2005 to put in new lighting, ceiling and carpet. The rebuilt organ with a new oak case built by Nordlie was installed in March of 2005. The new frame supporting the organ lowered the height to better clear the ceiling, but still allows enough space to crawl under for access. It was best to sandwich the old windchest between the new windchests. Over the next few months, we finished the wiring and installed the pipes. Once the pipes were in place, Eric Grane from Nordlie made many trips to Luverne over the summer and fall to voice the pipes. He spent hundreds of hours voicing(adjusting tone, attack, and especially for a house organ, volume) on each pipe.
Only a small part of the original organ remains, but it gave me a starting point for the project. During the summer of 2005 I refinished the console made of quarter sawn red oak.
To give us the flexibility of unification the old Z-tronics relay system was replaced by a fiber-optic solid state system by Matters, Inc. The system offers easy programmability, a combination action, transposer, midi, and player functions.
The organ is tuned in a temperament attributed to Bach, "Bach/Lehman 1722."