About The Pipe Organ

One of the major milestones in the history of Broadway was the installation of the pipe organ. Some sixteen months after the idea was first suggested, a Festival was held on January 17, 1873 to raise funds for the purchase of an organ. The Committee was composed of S. W. Dunn, J.C. Dunn, Josiah Morris, J. R. Lippincott and Dr. David Wiley. In May 1879, J. R. Lippincott, J. B. Youker and Josiah Morris raised further funds totaling $1,200 ($25,000 in today’s standards). By June 1880, sufficient funds were in hand, and a committee was appointed to purchase the organ. E&G Hook and Hastings of Boston was contracted to build the organ in the fall of 1880. Opus #1012 (order of construction), the original organ had 2 manuals and 20 stops.

The organ was installed in the gallery over the back of the church. Wind was supplied by hand bellows, pumped manually by long wood handles. In 1895 the organ was moved to the front of the sanctuary as it is seen today.

Later, a water powered motor was installed to pump the bellows. In 1912 the first electric turbine was purchased to supply wind to the wind chests.

In 1929, Hook and Hastings was contracted to rebuild and enlarge the organ, adding the pedal organ (played with the feet) and the choir division. The organ was also changed from tracker action to electric action. A new three manual console was also added. A new electric wind turbine was installed which is still in service today. Hook and Hastings ledger book lists the addition to Broadway’s organ as opus #2571, bringing the organ up to 1,306 pipes.

In 1961, after 79 years of service, the great and swell sections of the original Hook and Hastings organ began to fail. The great pipes (or positive) are directly in front of the console. The swell pipes are located behind the great pipes, enclosed in the swell chamber. The organs volume is regulated by the swell shades, which is between the great pipes and the swells. If you look closely you can see the shades open and close while the organ is being played. A committee including Vera Grieves, John Crymble, Myrtle Brown, Evelyn Schalick, and Robert Butcher was formed to contract the necessary repairs.

Discovering E&G Hook and Hastings went out of business in 1936, William Buckley and Son, organ builders from Philadelphia, were contracted to do the necessary work. Again, the organ was rebuilt, enlarged, and a new modern console was added. Herald Wright, longtime Organist and Choir Director, wanted the new console recessed in the floor because of its enormous size; this would permit him to play the organ and conduct the choir from his position. In 1962 an eight foot trumpet stop was added to boost the organs power. This was a gift from Mr. and Mrs. John Crymble.

After the 1961-62 restoration and last count, the complete organ now has 52 stops encompassing 1,462 pipes, ranging from the size of a pencil to a 12 by 12 wooden box 10 feet tall.In 1998, the pedal and the choir divisions went through a major restoration. This work was also completed by William Buckley and Son (the son then in his late 70’s).

Broadway’s Pipe Organ is one of the last large pipe organs in the tristate area still in continuous weekly service. The congregation at Broadway United Methodist Church is very proud of our pipe organ and our organist, John Turner Jr., who has made the pipes come to life every Sunday morning for more than 20 years.


  • Console: The large unit where the organist sits to play and control the organ. This includes the keyboard (manuals), pedal board, pistons, and drawknobs (stops).
  • Division: The pipes are grouped into several separate sections called divisions, such as the Great, Swell, Solo, Positive, and Pedal. Each is controlled by its own manual or the pedal board.
  • Electric Key Action: In an electric key action, a wire, an electric circuit, and an electro-magnet cause the valve below each pipe to open and close allowing wind to enter. When you press the key, you close an electrical contact. Electricity flows to the circuit that causes an electro-magnet to open and close the valves under each pipe. Electric action also allows the console to be placed a distance from the pipes.
  • Mechanical Action (Tracker Action): The key is connected to trackers (wooden, metal, or plastic strips or rods) that eventually connect to the valves that open to admit air from the wind chest into the pipe. When you press the key, you are physically opening the valve in the wind chest. In mechanical action, there is one valve for each note on the keyboard.
  • Pipes: Organ pipes fall into one of four broad categories — principal, flute, string, and reed. The majority of organ pipes are flute pipes. Principals are a subset of flute pipes that create the familiar, traditional fundamental organ sound.
  • Rank: A rank is a row of pipes all of which make the same sound, but at different pitches. For example, all the pipes for a Spire Flute (one kind of flute sound) will be in the same row. Organs are often described by the number of ranks they have. A 60 rank instrument is a fairly large size, while an 18 rank instrument is small.
  • Reservoir: This is a spring-loaded, expandable box for storing wind. Weights and springs are used on the expandable part to keep the air under a constant pressure. If the wind going to the pipes is not under the same, constant pressure, the sound will waver.
  • Stop: A sound represented by a knob at the organ console. A stop generally plays one rank of pipes, but some stops called ‘mixtures’ have two or more ranks, meaning that two or more pipes play from each key.
  • Swell Shades: Slats that look like Venetian blinds that can be opened and closed through a pedal called the swell shoe. Opening or closing the swell shades controls the loudness of the sound.
  • Windchest: The pipes sit on top of this very specially constructed wooden box. When a stop is on, air flows from the wind reservoir into the chest. When notes are played, it uses the air from the chest to make the pipes speak.