Incomplete timeline of construction: 1929 - Castle completed during the summer 1939 - Organ balcony added, console installed in the balcony 1939-1941 - Great moved to new chamber, Reed Chorus installed in old Great chamber June/July 1941 - Aeolian-Skinner provided Mixtures and 8’ Metal Bourdon for Great 1942 - E.M. Skinner Solo added May 1944 - Aeolian-Skinner and Aeolian pipework added to gallery forming Baroque division Late 1974/Early 1975 - 4-manual Console modified and moved to the floor for Virgil 1984-1986 - New 4-manual console built by Kim Bolten under the E.M. Skinner name
In addition, there were a number of additions and swappings of ranks through the years.
An enormous amalgamation of recycled and new material by a plethora of builders including Welte-Mignon, The Aeolian-Skinner Organ Company, E.M. Skinner & Son, Hook & Hastings, The Aeolian Company, Dennison Organ Pipe Co., and a host of others.
In 1941, Welte-Mignon Op. 253 (St. Andrew's Methodist, NYC) was installed alongside the existing Great division pipework. Aeolian-Skinner was contracted to provide three mixtures and an 8' Bourdon for the Great in the summer of 1941 (Opus 1028). These new pipes were fitted to existing chestwork, which were shipped back to the Aeolian-Skinner factory for modification. Work was completed at a cost of $1300.00.
At what was virtually the same time, E.M. Skinner & Son was engaged to provide a sizable Solo department (E.M. Skinner & Son Op. 538). Hammond would again engage Aeolian-Skinner in the summer of 1944 to provide a new VI Cornet. These pipes were racked onto existing Aeolian Co. chests already in Hammond's possesion, and installed in the rear gallery of the castle. Hammond had conceived of this as a single stop, with each rank afforded its own dynamic expression by what was apparently a very complciated mechanism. No trace of this mechanism remains today.
The apparent remains of Aeolian Op. 1539 are jumbled into the mix, with the entirety of the "Baroque" organ being comprised of what is seemingly Op. 1539's Swell department. How Hammond came to possess some or all of Op. 1539 remains unclear, and requires further investigation.
Various changes have been made to the organ over the decades, and it is unclear when or who made these changes. The Solo Heckelophone is no more, having been replaced by a Wurlitzer Vox Humana. Likewise, a deicdedly non-Aeolian Trumpet now resides in the Baroque organ, presumably having replaced the original Aeolian pipes.
Organ technicians have included - Tolbert Cheek Morel and Co (including Richard Nickerson) Roy Carlson Kim Bolton Richard Houghton (for SSL)
Baroque and pedal divisons (on floor behind console) are from Aeolian Op. 1539 (1925, Gladstone NJ). The Baroque division is the original Swell division from 1539.
Positiv division (in the gallery) has pipework by G. Donald Harrison, but it is placed on Aeolian chests that use an Aeolian regulator and tremulant (probably Op. 1539).
Great main pipework is Welte, Great mixtures are G. Donald Harrison. Great main chests are Welte, mixture chest is Skinner double-primary.
There have been (at least) (2) 4-manual consoles for the instrument: 1. Austin with a roll player located in the gallery. 2. Austin from gallery modified and moved to floor for Virgil Fox. 3. Kim Bolton console built in 1986 with SSL system.
The original console is extant in the castle (stored in pieces) but the keyboards and console top are missing.
The Great, Swell, Choir, Solo, and Reed Chorus divisions are located in the ceiling on either side of the great hall. The ceiling is made out of an acoustically transparent fabric. The Positive division is located in the gallery at one end of the great hall. The Baroque and Pedal divisons are located slightly recessed into the floor under the balcony behind the console.
There are two blowers: - Spencer Turbine 6" output with a 15hp Woods motor - Spencer Turbine 15" output with a 3hp Westinghouse motor
The Fox Horn was named for Virgil Fox as a joke. The positiv was added by G. Donard Harrison. 19 stop Solo division added by Ernest M. Skinner & Son in 1941.
First 4 manual console was built by Austin with a mechanical combination action. Modified with new case and moved down to the floor in 1957. New 4-manual console built in 1985 by Kim Bolton (then operating under the E.M. Skinner Company name) using a SSL relay.
Updated through online information from Peter Rudewicz. Original console specification: - 15 Generals and cancel - 8 Solo and cancel - 5 Baroque under Solo keys - 8 Swell and cancel -3 Baroque under Swell keys - 8 Great and cancel - 3 Baroque under Great keys - 8 Choir and cancel - 3 Baroque under Choir keys - 4 Pedal-toe studs - Also affect Pedal stops - Great to Pedal 8 reversible toe stud - Swell to Pedal 8 reversible toe stud - Sforzando reversible toe stud - Balanced Expression Pedals (Solo, Reed Chorus, Great, Choir, Master Swell, Crescendo) - 2 Spencer Turbine Orgoblo - 1- 15 H.P. Wind pressure 6" - 1-3 H.P. Wind pressure 20" - Electric Specialty generator (10 volts, 50 amperes)
John Hays Hammond, Jr. inspecting the pipes of the Great Division: Photograph from an archival source: From "The Hammond Museum" Booklet, submitted by Solomon Wickline. Taken on 1976-01-01
Wide shot of the great hall showing Virgil fox at the console: Photograph from an archival source: Virgil Fox Legacy, submitted by John Roper. Taken approx. 1975