Andover’s team of eleven craftsmen continues the company’s 74-year tradition of visual, mechanical, and tonal excellence.
Andover Organ Company was founded in 1948 as a result of an organ conference held at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, which introduced American organists to the ideas of the Organ Reform Movement and sparked a renewed appreciation for mechanical (“tracker”) action organs. At that time, few American companies were repairing old tracker organs; most just electrified or replaced them. Andover was the first to deliberately retain and renovate 19th century trackers.
As the leader in the mid-20th century tracker organ revival in America, Andover pioneered many innovations which are now standard in the industry. In 1959, Andover built the first new American tracker organ of the postwar era (Opus 28, 2m/11r) for Redeemer Lutheran Church in Lawrence, Massachusetts.
In 1961, Andover carried out the first historically sympathetic restoration of a 19th century American organ: the 1865 E. & G. G. Hook, Opus 358, at the Congregational Church in Orwell, Vermont. Three years later, in 1964, Andover accomplished the world’s first re-trackerization of an electrified tracker organ: the 1889 James Treat & Co., Opus 3, at St. George’s Ebenezer Primitive Methodist Church in Lawrence, Massachusetts.
Andover was the first American company to replace a cracked, solid-wood windchest soundboard with a marine-grade plywood one. The first organ to receive this treatment, in 1965, was the 1897 George W. Reed, at the Baptist Church in Winchendon, Massachusetts.
Andover is renowned for its work on numerous instruments by the famous 19th century Boston firm of E. & G.G. Hook (later E. & G.G. Hook & Hastings, Hook & Hastings), including their monumental 3m/101r 1875 masterpiece, Opus 801, at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston and the famous 1876 “Centennial Exposition” organ, Opus 828, now in St. Joseph Cathedral in Buffalo, New York.
Recent historically sympathetic projects include: the 2015 rebuilding and enlargement of the 1902 electro-pneumatic Hook & Hastings (Opus 1883) at St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, Massachusetts; the 2016 mechanical restoration of the 1892 Woodberry & Harris Opus 100 (3m/41r) tracker at St. Mary Church in Charlestown, Massachusetts; the 2017 rebuilding and expansion of the 1853 Wm. B. D Simmons organ (2m/29r) tracker at First Parish Church in Duxbury, Massachusetts; and the present rebuilding and tonal restoration of the 1906 electro-pneumatic Jesse Woodberry organ (3m/56r ) at St. Patrick’s Church in Lowell, Massachusetts.
Each year we tune over 300 organs throughout the US Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Southeast. These instruments range in size from small one-manual organs to the world-famous 4 manual, 116 rank Great Organ in the Methuen Memorial Music Hall; and range in age from new to an historic 1762 Snetzler organ in the Congregational Church of South Dennis, Massachusetts.
We have rebuilt or restored over 525 organs and built 118 new instruments. Our largest organ, Opus 114 (3m/82r), built in 2007 for Christ Lutheran Church in Baltimore, Maryland, features four Gothic-inspired cases with stenciled pipes, hand carved pipe shades, and two consoles (mechanical and electric). Opus 118 (2m/11r), one of our smallest, was designed with matching Federal (Adam) style cases to flank a Palladian window in the historic 1814 First Parish Church in Wayland, Massachusetts. All new Andover organs are designed to look and sound “at home” in their surroundings, to lead congregational hymn singing, and to interpret a wide range of organ literature.
Andover’s tonal style may best be described as “American” and is grounded in the best practices of the 19th century New England builders, in particular E. & G. G. Hook. Their organs, especially those from the firm’s “golden period” (1850s to 1870s), are prized for their remarkably successful blend of warmth and brilliance; in effect, the American equivalent of a Cavaillé-Coll or a Father Willis. Additionally, their pipe scales and voicing techniques work extremely well in the dry acoustics of many American churches. We use this tonal aesthetic as our starting point to build historically inspired instruments which meet modern musical needs.
Andover has been the parent of many other New England tracker organ companies, having employed over the years talented individuals who later founded their own companies. These included Philip Beaudry, Charles Fisk, Richard Hedgebeth, Fritz Noack, Bradley Rule, J.C. Taylor, and David Wallace. Andover’s present team of eleven craftsmen continues the company’s 74-year tradition of visual, mechanical, and tonal excellence.