Antique organ in Hudson to get new parts

Hannah Brown
Members of the Trinity Community Church congregation help load their 1939 organ into a moving van so that it may be sent off for repairs on a foggy morning earlier this month in Hudson. They hope it will be back, good as new, by Easter Sunday, April 12, 2020.

The Trinity Community Church in Hudson, Kansas was founded and built in 1914. Now, more than 100 years later, the congregation is still going strong with two services every Sunday, and a beautiful organ that blesses the churchgoers with music. Worshipers used to the accompaniment of the Moller pipe organ, which has been used at Trinity Community Church since 1939, will likely notice a void in their services however, as the organ has been temporarily sent away for reconstruction.

“The upgrades we make today will help keep the organ in a great up-to-date condition, so that this type of melodic, full and rich worship music can continue to be available and relevant in the future,” said Jennifer Pfortmiller, an organist at Trinity Community Church.

The 90 congregation members will surely miss the organ music that has been with them for more than eight decades, but the needed improvements will ensure they have that full repertoire for many years to come. The cost to purchase this type of organ today could cost anywhere between $200,000-$300,000, so it is incredible to see this type of instrument in a town of 125 people. Fixing the old organ now will keep the congregation from purchasing a new one in the near future.

“It is pretty rare to find this quality of a pipe organ in a rural Kansas church,” Pfortmiller said. “Generally speaking, it is even harder to find musicians to play this beautiful instrument. Our church has been blessed with a strong and long heritage of talented musicians who have played this organ and continue to do so today. It is also exciting to see the next generation of musicians find a love of music and a desire to serve as musicians in the church.”

Harris Organ Works, a company located in Arvada, Colorado, comes to Hudson two times a year to do regular maintenance and service of the 1939 organ, along with tuning. They will be doing the upgrading work, installing newer operating technologies available since the organ was purchased in the 30s, Pfortmiller said.

New electro-pneumatic actions along with new contacts and actions, new wiring and cabling system, more thumb pistons and toe studs, a transposer dial, and an MIDI implementation will be added for the operating system.

A Moller pipe organ was installed at the Hudson church in 1918. This organ used bellows and pump handles to provide power because there was no electricity. Once electricity became more easily accessible in rural Kansas, an electric motor was installed, but this organ only lasted about 20 years. In August of 1939, the Trinity Community Church purchased a new pipe organ and console for $3,500, which was a small fortune, especially considering this was towards the end of the Great Depression. It was manufactured by the Moller Pipe Organ Company in Hagerstown, Maryland. Not only did this organ cost a pretty penny, it also had quite the journey, traveling half way across the country to its new home. The organ is a 2-manual (keyboard) electric organ, which was the state of the art model in 1939. Electro-pneumatic actions were used in the musical instrument, which includes over 200 soldered electrical connections. The cables were specially built to make connection from the console, which is located at the front of the church, to the pipes, located in the balcony.

Pfortmiller said that although the organ, which is 81 years old, was still functioning extremely well, the wiring and connections of the organ were showing some age, which is why the members of the Trinity Community Church decided it was time for Harris Organ Works to do more than the regular service and tuning.

The Trinity Community Church welcomes all to join either of their services on Sunday mornings. Contemporary service starts at 9 a.m. and the Traditional service is at 11 a.m. Nicole Smith, Administrative Assistant at Trinity Community Church said she is hopeful the beautiful tones of the organ will again resound through the church after the repairs and upgrades are made in time to celebrate Easter on April 12, 2020.