|8’||Flûte Ouverte||61 Pipes|
|8’||Principal Violon||61 Pipes|
|8’||Voix Celeste||49 Pipes|
|4’||Flûte Traverso||61 Pipes|
|8’||Voix Humaine||61 Pipes|
|8’||Principal Etroit||61 Pipes|
|4’||Flute d’Amour||61 Pipes|
|8’||Bourdon Ext. 16’||Prepared|
|4’||Flûte á Chiminee||Prepared|
|32’||Flûte (Resultant)||32 Notes|
|16’||Flûte Ouverte||32 Pipes|
|16’||Bourdon Doux||32 Pipes|
|8’||Flûte Couverte||12 Pipes|
When yet another Lawrence (MA) church was closed due to parish mergers, we could do nothing but sigh. Another fine organ was available, with little chance of finding a new home. Sacred Heart RC Church in South Lawrence is an imposing 1936 Neo-Gothic granite structure built to serve the French community. Standing forlornly in the rear gallery was a 1936 Casavant, Opus 1531, with three manuals and 33 stops. Although there had been some water damage, the organ was basically in good condition. We had been maintaining the instrument for many years and knew its potential.
Fortunately, long-time friend Laurence Carson, organist of St. John the Evangelist RC Parish in Wellesley Hills (MA), called and asked us for information on the organ. St. John’s, a large and active parish, was interested in acquiring a pipe organ. After reviewing the information, a group from St. John’s visited Sacred Heart to see and hear the organ. They decided it was just what they were looking for. A contract was signed and a few weeks later, the Andover crew removed the organ to temporary storage.
In the past, one would not normally have considered Andover, with our reputation for rebuilding and restoring historic 19th century organs, for restoring a 20th century electropneumatic organ. But, as the criteria that define what constitutes an “historic” organ have evolved with the passage of time and taste, we have been increasingly chosen to restore “modern” historic organs. This, plus our reputation earned with the Archdiocese of Boston through previous projects such as the new console for the historic 1875 Hook & Hastings in Holy Cross Cathedral, and the fact that the instrument in question was a “neighbor in need,” made Andover the logical choice for all concerned.
In July 2007 the organ was removed from storage. We began the rebuilding process at our shop. The windchests were carefully dismantled and cleaned. Their pouchboards and primaries received new leather pouches and valves. All of the pipes were cleaned and repaired. All of the voicing was checked for proper speech and initial regulation at our shop. The work was essentially a restoration, with no tonal changes, although there is a preparation for the addition of a IV Mixture in the future. The six wind reservoirs were releathered and new windtrunks constructed to conform to the new layout of the organ. A new silent blower was installed. All of the pipes were regulated for proper volume and tone in the church under the direction of Andover’s Tonal Director, John Morlock. The console was completely rebuilt and refinished. A solid-state MultiSystem from Solid State Organ Systems and a multi-level combination action were installed, along with additional pistons and toestuds. The keyboards and pedalboard were rebushed and all their contacts cleaned and polished. The expression shoes and their surrounding frame were re-plated with shiny new chrome.
In Sacred Heart the organ had been divided into two cases flanking a window, with multi-section pipe fences on two sides of each case. Though these contained over 100 pipes, only 12 were actual speaking pipes; the rest were dummies. In its new home, the organ would have to occupy a single space, filling the rear gallery at St. John’s. This required a restructuring of the entire organ and its pieces. Team Leader Matthew Bellocchio re-engineered the organ’s layout and designed a new single façade to match the Victorian architecture of the building. This three-sectional façade utilizes some of the original case pieces and pipes. The wood pieces were stripped, modified and refinished. The pipes, which include the 12 real pipes, plus 19 of the dummy pipes, were refinished in gold paint. The organ looks and sounds very much at home in its new surroundings. Several years ago St. John’s worship space was expanded with the addition of a second nave, at an angle to the original. The two naves meet in the form of an “A,” with the altar located at the apex. The church’s choir is located in the front, along with the console. Since the organ’s pipes are located in the rear gallery of the original nave, we have made console preparations for the eventual addition of a floating Choeur division to be located in the front of the building. This will help in accompanying the choir and in reinforcing the main organ in hymn accompaniment.
The organ was dedicated on Sunday, October 19, 2008 with Leo Abbott, Music Director of The Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Boston, playing works by Messiaen, Paullus, Sowerby, Vierne and Widor. The program was co-sponsored by the Boston Chapter AGO as a part of the AGO’s nationwide Organ Spectacular to inaugurate the 2008-09 International Year of the Organ.