Fredonia Baptist Church / Family Church
19 Church Street
Fredonia, NY 14063 US
Organ ID: 56207
The photos accompanying this entry are now archival, no longer available on the church's media sites, and show a building that still looks like a church complete with original pews, wood floor, organ facade and choir/pulpit platform. The most recent renovation of the oldest and most historic church building left in town is now complete, the interior now unrecognizable as a liturgical space. The floor is covered with hotel-style wall to wall carpet, the pews are gone, replaced with upholstered chairs, the chancel arch with the organ facade at the rear is gone, sealed over with a fake rock wall with two giant TV screens on either side, with colored mood lighting, a clear acrylic lecturn, and a cheap electronic keyboard on folding legs like an ironing board joins a drum set as the only source of "music". Gone too are the chandeliers, grand piano, hymnals, and baptismal font.
The instrument seen in the photo is not a Johnson & Son as originally stated in this entry. This electric-action instrument carried an undated Viner & Son nameplate, and appeared to be somewhat old when I knew it in the 1970s. The organ had a detached console front and center surrounded by choir pews, all now gone in the accompanying photo, although the remains of a console appear to be sitting in a pit in front of what used to be the choir loft. When I substituted here while an organ major at the local state university in the 1970s, the church lore was this was either a rebuild or an electrification of the original Johnson, although I remember it as an 8' and 4' organ that seemed too small for the building (perhaps 11 or 13 ranks), although that may have been a function of the chamber and restrictive opening. The organ does not appear in the Viner & Son ledger now held in the American Organ Archives, which could suggest this Viner rebuild dated from after the second world war.
In 2015 the Baptist congregation sold out to "The Family Church". On May 4, the historic steeple with an original clock caught fire and was destroyed. The church interior did not burn but was extensively damaged by water and smoke. As part of a million-dollar renovation, the organ was not considered important and was discarded, and an unfortunate fake colonial fiberglass steeple replaced the massive and elegant original that was sadly damaged beyond repair.
Updated through online information from M. Hills. -- Damaged by fire 2018 at 19 Church Street, Family Church discarded organ after fire loss.
An original installation. Identified by John Igoe, using information found in Johnson Organs, 1844-1898: Wm. A Johnson, Johnson Organ Co., Johnson & Son: a documentary issued in honor the two hundredth anniversary of his birth, 1816-2016 / by Scot L. Huntington, Len Levasseur, Barbara Owen, Stephen L. Pinel, and Martin R. Walsh. Cranbury, New Jersey: The Princeton Academy of the Arts, Culture, and Society, 2015.. --
Sanctuary interior with facade in front: Photograph from an archival source: Church Facebook page, submitted by Jim Stettner. Taken on 2015-01-21
Chancel and facade: Photograph from an archival source: Church Facebook page, submitted by Jim Stettner. Taken on 2016-05-16