Second Congregational Church / United Church of Stonington
67 Main Street
Stonington, CT 06378 US
Organ ID: 9715
The facade pipes were restencilled when the interior was updated in 1883. The organ remained unaltered following that cosmetic change until ca. 1954 when, following the merger of the Congregationalists with the Baptists into the Congregational building, the Potter-Rathbun company of Providence, Rhode Island performed a major renovation. A number of unfortunate changes were made, but which fortunately were reversible with the exception of the tragic loss of the original ivory key covers and stop labels.
The 1983 work performed by Andover included: retabling of the windchests with plywood, replacement of the wooden trackers and the replacement of the original threaded wires and leather nuts with new wires and stellrings; recovering of pallets and rebushing of keyboards; the double-rise reservoir was releathered, as were the two feeder bellows; stoppers were releathered, tuning slides removed and the original cone tuning (in a remarkable state of preservation) was reinstated, as was the original high pitch of A450; the pressure was raised back to its original level of 3", the softened Keraulophon was restored to original tonality; the celluloid stop labels were replaced with replicas of the originals hand-engraved in ivory by Brunner & Heller; and the celluloid key coverings were replaced with ivory intended for another keyboard but unused.
The only option of several the church opted for, was intended to restore the facade pipes to their "original" stencilled decoration (at the time of the 1983 restoration, the 1883 layer of decoration-- an unlovely pale pink ground with olive and gold decoration-- was believed to be the original). However, during the paint stripping process another very handsome layer was found underneath, and it was this 1870 design in gray, blue, and gold that Andover replicated, restoring the organ to its as-installed appearance. The Andover company pioneered the restoration of stencilled facades in the late 1970s, and this one one of the more elaborate they had done to date.
At the time of the proposal, Andover gave the church several options in additional to the facade decoration option: Replicating a pump handle to operate the restored feeder bellows; completing the Dulciana with 12 bass notes of recycled pipes; or adding a 16' Pedal Trombone. As an organist, I miss the unrealized tonal additions, but as these changes were not pursued for financial reasons, and has fortuitously left the restored organ as the only essentially unaltered example of this exceptionally versatile stock model (compared to its five altered and relocated sisters). It is the only one of its design still in the home for which it was created.
The first interior pipe of the Open Diapason, (tenor a#), has Stephen Kinsley's famous engraved autographic shield. Kinsley was an outstanding voicer, possibly at this time head voicer. This organ, and a sister relocated to Arlington, Mass. and a one-manual version in Orwell, Vermont, all share the same forceful and surprisingly German/Walcker-esque 4-stop Diapason chorus-- a sound unique to this surviving trio of small instruments. The Stonington instrument was likely the last produced of this design, installed in December 1870. The following year, Frank Hastings is made a nameplate partner, and the firm issues its first official catalog of numbered stock models. This design is now officially identified as Number 9, but the Mixture has been replaced in favor of a less brilliant Twelfth 2 2/3'. This revised design would persist through several changes of scaling, voicing, and tonal taste for the next 20 years, but none approach the power and brilliance of the 1869-1870 versions as realized by Kinsely (who left the Hook firm in 1872).
Restoration of the organ by the Andover Organ Company was under the supervision of Robert Newton. George Kent played the rededication recital on 2 October 1983. -- from builder ad in 1985 OHS Handbook
The original builder was E. & G. G. Hook (1870, Opus 558).
Status Note: There 2000