Restoration of the Historic
& G.G. Hook Organ

page 2

The Project Begins

In the first week of September 2005, David Moore and staff member John Atwood arrived and began the process of disassembling the organ.  Nearly the entire organ, except for the case and some interior structural components, is being taken in several installments to Moore's workshop in North Pomfret, Vermont.  Click on thumbnails below to view a larger picture.




During a second visit in October, many of the pipes were removed and packed in boxes.




Three trackers:  the upper two broke and
were repaired at some time in the past.


In November, some parts were returned to St. Paul's, including the pedal-board and some of the larger wooden pipes.  The pipes had been cleaned and splits in them were repaired.  During this visit, the section of the floor under the pedal-board was cut out to lower it and provide more leg room for the organist.  After the fire in 1912, which damaged the original floor and the pews, a new floor was laid on top of the old one and consequently the pedal-board was raised.  Cleaning of the interior of the organ continued during this visit.  Original components of the organ that are no longer needed (such as the handle that was used to pump the bellows before installation of an electric motor) or that had to be replaced because of damage are being retained and stored to ensure their availability to future students of the history of organs.

Restored pipes, square rails,                  Square rail                         Floor cut out for        
 roller board                                                                               pedal-board



The Organ Case

While work progresses on the restoration of the organ itself, the case is also being renewed.  Scraping of a section of the case has revealed five layers of paint on the pine case.  Originally, the case was faux-oak, an effect that was created by first applying a cream or light tan undercoat and then brushing over it a reddish pigment in a way that gave the impression of wood grain.  At a later time, the case was repainted.  A neutral pigment was chosen--either an off white or a gray.  Smoke damage from the fire at St. Paul's in 1912 necessitated the repainting of the entire interior of the church, including the organ case.  Again, a neutral color, a gray, was used.  The facade pipes were originally gilded with gold leaf.  They, too, were painted, probably after the fire, using a metallic gold paint that has become dull and discolored over the years.  Finally, the last time the interior of the church was painted, the organ case was also painted again.  The same flat white paint that was used on the walls of the church was also applied to the organ case. 

A sanded patch on the east side of the case reveals the color
history of the case.  This patch will be preserved unpainted.   

For the restoration project, not only the history of the case, but also its setting were taken into account.  The organ was part of a particular liturgical space and was designed with that space in mind.  The restoration of the instrument itself will preserve its singular style, construction, and, as far as possible, the original components.  However, restoration is not for the purpose of preserving a museum piece to be admired but not played, so some parts must be replaced and restoration will allow for some appropriate variations to enhance the utility of the instrument.  In the same way, the renewal of the case must allow for some adaptation. 

Oak is simply the wrong finish for St. Paul's Church with its dark furnishings and paneling.  It is likely that the first repainting took place at the time the organ was installed at St. Paul's, when the faux-oak would have been out of place in a room with walnut and mahogany furnishings and wainscoating.  At that time, the choice was made simply to paint the case a neutral color.  However, many surviving Hook instruments are housed in cases of a dark wood similar to the furnishings at St. Paul's, and this is the choice that has been made for the renewal of the case of Opus 189.  To approximate an impression of grained walnut, the case was first prepared with a gray primer to mask the flat white of the most recent painting.  Then an undercoat of a reddish tan hue was applied.  Finally, a coat of a rich brown paint was applied.  The single coat, brushed on in the same direction that the wood grain runs, allows the undercoat to bleed through the brush strokes very slightly.  To add further visual interest, carved foliage and garlands of fruit have been gilded and recessed panels on the case have been painted a lighter shade of brown.









Restoration of the Organ
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