Opus R-438 Stop List
Great 58 Notes: GGG, AAA-f3
8’Open Diapason
8’Open Diapason Bass
8’Viol d’Amour
8’St. Diapason Treble
8’St. Diapason Bass
Swell 58 Notes: GGG, AAA-f3
8’Open Diapason
8’Viol di Gamba
8’St. Diapason Treble
8’St. Diapason Bass
Pedal 17 Notes: GGG, AAA-CC
16’Sub Bass
  • Swell to Great
  • Great to Pedal
  • Swell to Pedal
  • Bellows Signal
Opus R-438
Centre Street Methodist
Thomas Appleton, 1831
Nantucket, Massachusetts
Andover Organ Company Opus R-438Andover Organ Company Opus R-438

The history of Methodism began on Nantucket in 1796 and the Reverend William Beauchamp organized the first Methodist Society on July 25, 1799 with 19 charter members. The present building was erected in 1823.

The Great Fire of 1846 that engulfed one-third of the town was advancing on the Methodist building when orders were given to blow up the church to stop the fire from spreading. Kegs of gunpowder were brought to the church, but before they could be set off, Maria Mitchell ascended the steps, crossed her arms and stated that if they were to blow up the church, they would have to blow her up as well. Legend has it that at that moment the wind changed and the building was saved. Maria Mitchell became a heroine.

In 1858 the church acquired the historic Thomas Appleton organ of 1831. E.&G.G. Hook expanded the single manual instrument to two manuals as their Opus 241 and installed the organ. The origin of the organ is unknown but the most likely candidate is Appleton’s Opus 29 built for the South Congregational (Unitarian) Church, Boston. The Nantucket Argument Settler speaks of the organ coming from “Old South” Boston, confusing this historic church with the South Congregational Church. The South Congregational Church had a Simmons and Wilcox organ installed in 1857 so; date wise, it is likely that this Appleton organ was the one brought to Nantucket by the Hooks and installed in the rear gallery. At some point prior to 1857 a Pedal windchest and 13 open wood pipes were added to the organ by Simmons & McIntyre.

In expanding the Appleton, the Hooks removed the Swell box from the Great and built a new, short compass, five stop windchest for the Swell with a single set of seventeen 8’ bass pipes. They moved the Hautboy to the new Swell and installed an 8’ Viol d’Amour in its place on the Great. The Hooks retained the GGG compass of 58 notes.

Except for having been moved from the rear gallery to the front of the Church, the organ remained virtually unchanged until 1968 when a local builder lowered the wind pressure, revoiced the pipes, fiddled with the key action and replaced the hitch-down Swell Pedal with a balanced Pedal that could only be used if the organist had a reversed club foot. He also removed the Viol d’Amour in favor of an 8’ Trumpet that was never installed.

In 1985 a contract was signed with Andover for Part 1 of the restoration of the organ. Under the direction of Robert C. Newton, the key action was restored, the Viol d’Amour was restored to the Great, and the hitch-down Swell Pedal was restored to the organ. Fred Cook, a member of the Church, provided voluntary labor and the use of his workshop.

Part 2 of the restoration process would wait until 2007, when the windchests were repaired and the manual keyboards and Pedalboard were rebushed and repaired. The wind pressure was raised, the pipework was cleaned, repaired and the original voicing restored. The common metal case pipes were collapsing at their toes. The pipes were repaired with new toes soldered on. New gold leaf was applied with the help of our good friend Marylou Davis of Woodstock, Connecticut. Most of the work, again under the direction of Bob Newton, was accomplished over the winter months. The organ was reassembled in June and July of 2008. Our good friend Laurence Young performed the dedication concert on September 6, 2008.