The first organ on record was built in 1928 by Henry Pilcher’s Sons (Op. 1439 – 3 manuals /33 ranks) of Louisville, Kentucky. In 1969, a new instrument was built by Otto Hofmann (3 manuals – 65 ranks) of Austin, Texas. Four stops or ranks (sets of pipes) and their wind chests were retained by Hofmann from the 1928 Pilcher organ, those being a large scale 16′ Open Wood, a 16′ and 8′ Stopped Wood, and a 16′ Gedeckt in the pedal division. By 2010, these stops (from 1928) were barely functional, and the Hofmann organ was becoming more and more mechanically unreliable. The console (or keyboards and stops), having had several alterations over the years, including the addition of a SSL combination action, was also failing.
In 2010, a large gift was given to First Church to begin an organ fund to either rebuild or replace the Hofmann organ. Over the next several years this fund grew, and in 2014, a large gift was given by an FUMC family and over $100,000 was raised by the congregation. At this point, a contract was signed with R.A. Colby, Inc. of Johnson City, Tennessee to begin “Phase I” of two phases to rebuild, enlarge, and revoice the Hofmann organ, essentially creating a new instrument.
Phase I involved:
- a new 3 manual and pedal console of Maple with Walnut Burl interior and 130 drawknobs and a 200 memory level combination action
- new wind chests for the 1928 Pilcher stops
- electrical renovation of the instrument including completely rewiring the organ, and replacing all magnet discs
- a new 16′ and 8′ Bombarde unit in the pedal
- a new 16′ and 8′ Hooded Harmonic Trumpet (TC)
- a new high pressure blower and reservoirs for the new reeds
- expanded tonal resources via digital sampled stops
The new R.A. Colby instrument now has the equivalent of 100 ranks and was premiered in a concert by Ken Cowan on May 31, 2015.
To download the complete specification, click here.