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Raymond J. Brunner
has been building and restoring organs in the Lancaster, PA area for twenty-five years. He
has extensive knowledge of and expertise with the Pennsylvania Dutch and German organ
traditions, and is the author of That Ingenious
Business: Pennsylvania German Organ Builders, a
study of Pennsylvania German organ builders from the 18th through the early
of the Organ
Built in 1869 by Samuel Bohler, Reading,
Manual, 54 notes
(from low G, 5 wood and 42 metal
(from tenor c, 37 metal
(from tenor c, 42 open wood
(from tenor c, 42 stopped wood
Bass 8’ (from
low C, 12 stopped wood pipes)
(54 metal pipes)
(54 metal pipes)
Pedal, 13 notes
(13 stopped wood pipes)
manual to pedal)
Pitch A-438 @ 72F, equal temperament tuning.
Wind pressure, 3” water column.
Electric blower, 0.25 HP Laukhuff Ventus.
Background Info by Ray Brunner
organ is a one-manual and pedal instrument of 7 ranks, and is typical of many small Pennsylvania German church
organs built in the latter half of the 19th century. It
has principal stops at 8’, 4’, and 2’ with the 8’ Diapason a short compass rank. There are two 8’ flutes, a
Stopped Diapason and an open wood Clarabel which Bohler generally used. A soft Dulciana completes the manual
ensemble. The Stopped Diapason is divided
so that the bass can be used with the short compass Diapason and Clarabell stops. The Pedal is a stopped wood
Bourdon of 13 notes and a manual to Pedal coupler is provided. Metal pipework in the organ was made by Peter
Schenkel, a German immigrant pipe maker who had a business in
supplying pipes to regional organ builders.
The organ was built for Muddy Creek Lutheran Church and Reform Church in
1869, located in northern Lancaster county near Adamstown. It was installed in the gallery of the "Old
Stone Church" (1847-1938) where it was used until 1938. That year the old
church building was torn down and a new church building was dedicated in 1939. The Bohler organ was saved
and installed in a basement hallway by a local organ repairman, Justus Becker of
Reamstown. The organ was apparently used for a few years for the Sunday school, but ceased
to play and was unused for many years.
In 1995 the organ was purchased from Muddy Creek Church and removed by
Raymond and Ruth Brunner. Restoration was begun and plans were made to install the organ in the old
stone church building of St. Peter’s Lutheran in Middletown, PA. It was to be a memorial to my late wife's father and was
being donated by her mother. When those plans changed, the
organ was offered for sale. The organ has
now found a new home at Lutheran Church of the Incarnate Word, Rochester, NY.
Restoration of the organ was done with regard to preserving the original
intent of the builder and keeping the instrument historically accurate. The original
wind reservoir was retained and new feeder bellows were built to replicate the missing
originals. An electric blower was provided for normal use, but the organ can be pumped by hand
as it was originally done. All extant original parts of the organ were restored, including the
windchests, action, pedalboard, and pipework. The pipes are original except for the Fifteenth 2’ which
Justus Becker had replaced with an 8’ string stop. Fortunately, a rank of period Peter Schenkel pipes
identical to the missing pipes was found. These pipes were
restored and fit perfectly in the original rack board holes for the Fifteenth.
The manual keyboard is a replica of the original, which had been
replaced in 1939. Measurements were taken from the original Bohler keyboard at Old Belleman’s Church
and an exact copy was made by Nelson Woodworking of Little Compton, RI. The only change is that the
natural keys are covered with cow bone instead of ivory. New stop knobs were made of rosewood and
antique ivory stop faces were hand engraved in the correct style.
The casework of the organ is painted poplar designed in a Gothic
style. Although simulated grain painting was generally used at the time, the organ seems to have always
been painted a light color. An old
photograph of the organ at Muddy Creek shows a darker trim color on some of the moldings, although it is not
known if this was added later. When the organ was moved in 1939, the left side of the case was discarded so
it could fit into a corner, as was the fretwork around the top of the case which would not clear the new
ceiling. These parts of the case were replicated during the restoration. A new set of back panels
in a support frame was also installed in the organ to stabilize the case and for better sound
projection. Façade pipes are zinc and were originally gold leafed, now painted gold and
silver. They are speaking pipes of the Open Diapason except for the right center group of
five which are dummies.
The organ was installed in Lutheran Church of the Incarnate Word in
August of 2006. Installation was done by Raymond Brunner, Thomas Becker, and Robert Carbaugh with
assistance of church members and youth who helped unload the organ parts. Others who worked on the
restoration were Ruth E. Brunner, Terry Nace, Larry Siders, and Keith Eiser.
Prepared by Raymond J. Brunner