Skidmore, founded by Lucy Skidmore Scribner (1853-1931) in 1911 as the Industrial School of the Arts for women, has had two organs. The first, built by William W Laws, was installed in College Hall (formerly the Second Presbyterian Church) in September 1928. The four-manual organ was first heard at the opening convocation of the s chool year on September 28, when new faculty member Stanley E. Saxton first played for the community. The formal dedication took place October 5, when Saxton played works of Boellman, Borodin, Franck, Mendelssohn, Wagner and Widor. Reviewing the program, Louis Edgar Johns wrote: The installation of the new organ, which took place at Skidmore College Hall, last night, represents the beginning of Skidmore's musical year. The occasion was especially interesting in that it introduced to the public Stanley E. Saxton, head of the organ department at the college. The program afforded Mr. Saxton abundant opportunity for demonstrating his mastery of the instrument, including a well-developed keyboard and pedal technique. Mr. Saxton's style is broad and full, tending to effects of brilliant sonority. This is thoroughly in keeping with the nature of the new instrument, which, especially in full organ, is brilliant in the extreme.
The organ was des cribed October 4: The new pipe organ is the work of the organ builder, William W. Laws, of Beverly, Mass. The organ proper is located in the south wall of the main division of the Chapel. It has 42 sets of pipes, and in addition to these a beautiful set of chimes. The organ contains several unusual stops, two of which, the clarinet and nazard, were especially imported from France, which is world-famed for its skill in producing reed [sic] stops. The console has been placed at the left of the platform in the choir stall. It is of the most modern electrical type with three operating manuals and ample mechanical and electrical devices to insure the utmost expediency in operation. The console has been prepared with an additional keyboard for an echo organ which the college hopes to add to the fundamental instrument in the near future. President Moore will be at the organ for the assembly.
Apparently, the organ was less than s atisfactory. A much later report, publishe d as Sax ton re ti re d from Skidmore, notes: "When he first arrived on the campus in 1928, six years after Skidmore was chartered as a four-year degree-granting institution, Professor Saxton played the opening recital on the new organ installed in the remodeled College Hall. The organ was poorly designed and needed tonal revision, so one of the instructor's first assignments was a ten-year program to rebuild and enlarge the instrument. To carry out this assignment he made intensive studies of outstanding organs in this country and eventually toured F rance and England s tudying organ design." Part of the enlargement was the installation of a new Echo division built by M.P. Moller, Opus 6046 (1931), a two-manual instrument with nineteen registers.
From his teenage years, the author recalls this instrument, with its Austin-style console; Benjamin Van Wye, a music faculty member at Skidmore during the 1970s and one of my former organ teachers, confirms my recollections. After Skidmore sold the downtown campus during the 1970s and '80s, the building was renovated into condominiums. What happened to the organ is not known, but it was presumably broken up for parts. -- 2006 OHS Organ Atlas
Identified by Stephen Pinel. See the article referenced below.