Notes from the Organ Bench

  • Start date:
    August 27, 2019, 9:00 am
  • End date:
    October 28, 2025, 6:00 pm

“In my eyes and ears the organ is the king of instruments”  – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

This is the first of a series of articles about our beloved E. M. Skinner organ. My writings about the pipe organ are prompted by our church’s web organizer Audrey Rossow inquiry about the instrument’s beautiful sounds. Our original organ was a George W. Stevens tracker organ and was installed at the back of our church sanctuary in the late 1800’s. George Stevens (1803-1894) a pipe organ manufacturer from East Cambridge, MA built over 800 pipe hundred organs.

Incidentally, George Stevens was also a politician and served as the 3rd mayor of Cambridge He is buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery where my grandmother, Marguerite Carpenter is interred. According to my current research, a few George Stevens pipe organs can still be seen and heard in New England towns and cities including Shirley Center, Gloucester, and Harvard (Massachusetts) and Wiscasset and Belfast (Maine).

Yesterday, I visited the Harvard Historical Society, and took pictures of the historic 1870 Stevens organ console and façade (pipes seen). HHS, claims it to be the largest remaining single manual Stevens organ. In the future, I plan to exhibit pictures of both the Harvard organ and our own Millbury church organ.

It is important to note, that in 1923, at First Congregational of Millbury our church forebears decided to update our organ to better suit the sanctuary acoustics. The George Stevens casework was moved to the front of the sanctuary and a new E.M. Skinner pipe organ was installed.  The huge façade organ pipes (face of the instrument) behind the pulpit was retained from the original Stevens instrument .

Joyce Carpenter-Henderson

First Congregational Church, UCC

Organist/Music Director