Originally created 08/19/00

St. John to get new, one-of-a-kind organ



St. John United Methodist Church on Greene Street has a new organ on the way - with delivery expected the fall of 2003.

Dobson Pipe Organ Builders Ltd. of Lake City, Iowa, will fashion the instrument, which will cost $804,400, including site preparation.

It will be one-of-a-kind. Lynn Dobson, president and artistic director of the organ-building company, designed it for St. John's sanctuary, built in 1844. The organ's appearance is based on the designs of 18th-century American organs.

It will take about a year to construct, but prior commitments will delay the start two years, said Jamie Council Garvey, music director for the 592-member congregation.

The organ will have a case of solid cherry, three manuals (keyboards) and 42 ranks of pipes.

The church consulted J. Warren Hutton, professor emeritus of organ at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, about eight years ago about repairing or replacing its 1937 Austin organ. His recommended getting a new one.

The Austin is usable but is in danger of falling apart, Mrs. Garvey said. "The blower is being held together with rubber bands, so to speak, and the console is just worn out."

Damage to the facade pipes during the church's $350,000 renovation two years ago influenced St. John to go ahead with the project, she said. "About a third (of the pipes) were damaged beyond repair. Since all the pretty pipes were gone, it doesn't look too good in there."

Mrs. Garvey and some of the members took a three-state tour in September to investigate organs by various builders, she said. "Everywhere we went Hurricane Floyd was on our heels."

For more information on the organ builder, visit the Dobson Internet site at www.dobsonorgan.com.

Reach Virginia Norton at (706) 823-3336 or vanorton@augustachronicle.com.