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The Grace Organ Project


Here is a photo of our current organ console…..

Old Console

Our instrument was built in 1957 by one of the best organ companies of its day, the Aeolian-Skinner company of Boston, so while this is a smaller instrument, it has a great pedigree.  The configuration was changed by a local organ company sometime during David Wilson’s tenure as organist, and a Great mixture was added.

This instrument has two keyboards, called manuals, and a curved, or convex, pedalboard.  It has 1,715 pipes organized into approximately 30 different sets called ranks.  This organ is considered a small to medium sized instrument, and while there were a lot of compromises made in its original design, it has served the parish well for 65 years.

The organ project has three parts:

  1. Replacement
  2. Restoration
  3. Improvements


Our console, the part of the organ with manuals, includes a set of systems inside it that are mostly worn out.  At 65 years of age it is beyond its anticipated useful life.  Here are some photos of the new Grace organ console presently being built in Georgia.

IMG_20150207_130413 IMG_20150207_130358 IMG_20150207_130358 IMG_20150207_130422 20150211_131322 20150211_131311 20150211_131338 20150211_131307



The pipework stays, the wind chests, reservoirs, all these things stay.  We’ll repair a lot of issues and replace most of the electronic parts with solid state.

Swell Organ 7 Swell Organ 6 Swell Organ 5 Swell Organ 4 Swell Organ 3 Swell Organ 2 Swell Organ 1 Swell Division regulator Great Organ 3 Great Organ 2 Great Organ 1 Great Division regulator Enc Great 5 Enc Great 4 Enc Great 3  Enc Great 1


These electronic relays will be replaced with modern technology.

Swell Division relays Great Division relays



There are four improvements to the organ:

  1. Console improvements
  2. New pipework and chests
  3. Digital additions
  4. Tonal changes


     Console 1

Console improvements include:

The new console, as you might have noticed, now has three keyboards, or manuals.  There is a modern combination action included, so on the original console there are four general pistons and four divisional pistons, with only one level of memory, now we’ll have 10 general pistons and 10 divisional pistons, with 100 levels of memory plus a sequencer.

Other improvements to the console include the addition of a transposer, additional couplers for another division, the sound of chimes, a harp, and a zimbelstern, which is a set of little bells.  No bird sounds sorry to say, but if you really wanted them you could just MIDI them in at a later time.


Console-4     Console-5

New pipework and chests include:

  • Completely new
    • Two new full-size ranks (sets) of pipes and new chests
    • One partial 24 pipe and chest addition
  • New pipes and relocations
    • Five new ranks of pipes and one partial rank with new toeboard overlays
    • Three rank mixture (from swell) toeboard overlay

Digital additions include:

  • Total of at least 40 new digital stops, roughly doubling the tonal palate of the organ
  • Digital stop distribution
    • 14 digital stop Antiphonal
    • Other digital stops added judiciously to each division
  • Antiphonal Organ as floating division


This is manipulating the pipes to produce different sounds.  Some re-voicing will be subtle, while some will be more dramatic.  This will be done so that the pipework will fit the new tonal scheme.

Voicing new digital stops to become part of the instrument as a whole.

This design was offered by Pete Dyes of the Schlueter Organ Company of Lithonia, Georgia.  At the end of the day we’ll have an 80 stop hybrid instrument with a new console that can do all the things we always wished our little Aeolian Skinner could do for us.

Many thanks to our original organ committee, Geoff Dirksen, Linda Baily, and Mary Anne Gehrenbeck!






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Grace Episcopal Church
Grace Church Road, located off of Georgia Ave. in downtown Silver Spring, near the intersection of Georgia Ave. and 16th Street.

The church office will be open Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. After hours you may leave a message on the answering machine, which will direct you to individual voice mail boxes for members of the church staff.

Telephone: Parish Office: 301.585.3515; Parish Fax: 301.585.4309

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1607 Grace Church Road
Silver Spring, MD 20910
(301) 585-3515