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Restorative repairs were completed on the oldest, totally unaltered concert hall organ in the United States in preparation for its reopening at the Society’s convention on June 30th, 2006. Built by J.H. & C.S. Odell in 1882 for the Fifth Avenue residence of William Belden, the lavish, three-manual organ was relocated to Troy in 1890.  The historical significance of this instrument cannot be overstated.

The project was directed by Scot L. Huntington, of S.L. Huntington & Co. of Stonington, Connecticut. Work included general cleaning, restoring the high-pressure wind system (which delivers 6″ of wind to the 8 Tuba and 16 Trombone), re-leathering winkers, stop motors, and the high-pressure reservoir, and tuning and regulation. A consortium of respected builders contributed time, personnel, and materials to make the concert a reality. Twenty-two volunteers (largely from the Eastern New York Chapter of AGO) worked fourteen-hour days for two weeks in January to clean 115 years of coal soot off hundreds of pipes.

Among the participants were William Czelusniak and Richard Frary, (Czelusniak et Dugal, Northampton, Mass.). Their firm has restored a large-capacity Spencer blower to wind the instrument properly. Edward and Holly Odell (J.H. & C.S. Odell, East Hampton, Connecticut)—descendants of the original makers—re-leathered a reservoir that enabled the audience to hear the high-pressure reeds for the first time in living memory. Keith Williams (John-Paul Buzard, Champaign, Illinois) restored stop motors, tremulants, and assisted with general repairs. Ben Merchant (Kerner & Merchant, Syracuse, New York) repaired pipes, re-leathering winkers, and cleaned the windchests. Larry Pruett (Columbia Organ Leathers, Columbia, Pennsylvania) supplied leather for the project at no cost. John Schreiner of Schenectady and a former employee of C.B. Fisk donated two weeks to regulate the key action and couplers.

Early indications suggested that the organ is tonally spectacular, with broad, singing fluework and strong, fiery reeds. The instrument is centered high above the stage, and speaks down the central axis of a room with superb acoustics. It delivers a punch that is arresting and satisfying. Organist Dana Robinson and the Franciscan Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Lanfranco Marcelletti performed Widor’s seldom-heard Sinfonia Sacra. Solo pieces and shorter nineteenth-century selections with orchestra completed the program.

Read feature stories about the restoration of the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall organ

Organbuilders that assisted
  • S.L. Huntington and Co.
    • Scot Huntington
      • Project Manager

  • Buzard Organ Co.
    • Keith Williams

  • J.H. & C.S. Odell, Inc.
    • Edward Odell
    • Holly Odell

  • Kerner & Merchant, Organbuilders
    • Ben Merchant
    • Ryan Boyle

  • Messrs. Czelusniak et Dugal, Inc.
    Blower and wind system restoration, design, and installation

    • William F. Czelusniak
    • Richard M. Frary, Jr.
    • Gary W. Smith
    • Jon R. Van Houten
    • Aaron J. LaRose
    • Steven J. Russell
Enthusiastic local volunteers from the AGO, ATOS and the OHS
  • Bill Anderson
  • Barbara Adler
  • Mark Backhaus
  • John Basile
  • Frank Bosher
  • Michelle Chaiken
  • Rafael Chaiken
  • Seth Chaiken
  • Tim Ciampolillo
  • Karen Coates
  • Joe Connors
  • Bill Danish
  • Al Fedak
    • (Dean, Capital District AGO)
  • Charles Jones
  • Karen Klevanosky
  • Peter Leue
  • Jim Palmer
  • Stephen Pinel
    • (Chair, 2006 OHS National Convention)
  • Iteke Prins
  • Sharon Roy
  • Sharon Stein
  • Donna Tallman
  • John Vernieu