Milnar Organ Company - Established 1968
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Newsletter 2013


The III/55 Aeolian/Skinner at Belmont University has been in our care since it was installed in 1969. At that time, the building was functioning as a large local Baptist Church. After years of declining membership, the church was purchased by Belmont and plans were made to make it a concert hall. We removed the organ during the extensive renovation that included the sloping of the floor, removing the ceiling to the roof line and covering their large windows with additional 1” thick glass to enhance acoustics. The hall rivals the Schermerhorn Symphony Center for its glorious acoustic environment. Both venues employed the acoustic engineers of Akustiks, an acoustical consulting firm based in South Norwalk, Connecticut.

We made several improvements to the organ to include a new ICS-4000 solid state control system, moveable console platform with six plug-in locations, and tonally we took an edge off the mixtures and the high pressure trumpet.

The transplanted Schantz at Cumberland Presbyterian Church is another organ that we marketed, removed and installed. It came from the Chapel of Bartlett United Methodist Church. The sanctuary at Cumberland Presbyterian is larger than the Bartlett Chapel, so we suggested additions. We added an 8’ Oboe and 8’ Celeste T.C. to the Swell and a 4’ Hohlflute to the Great. We updated the control system to an ICS-4000 to add features and eliminate the airline to the console. The Swell division was installed in a well- insulated room in the attic above the center reredos. We had the church install two layers of drywall in the chamber and replace the chancel ceiling with hard material to help project the tone. We finished the final voicing and we’re pleased with the balance between divisions and the organ’s overall presence in the room.

This is a new client for us. We worked with Dr. Diane Earl. She is the Director of Music at Settle, Artist in Residence and Director of the music program at Kentucky Wesleyan College. She also directs the Owensboro Symphony Chorus. We have recently re-leathered the Swell and Choir shade machines. We added 12 pipes to the Swell 4’ Oboe to make an 8’ Oboe. In the Choir division, we added a new 8’ Clarinet. We also had the church add louvers to the doors and insulation above the ceiling of the organ chambers to increase the tuning stability.

We added the four organs at the university to our tuning roster. The largest organ is a III/60 1980 Holtkamp located in Palmer Hall. We replaced its single level combination action with a new 10-level one. The second largest organ is in LeBaron Recital Hall and is a 15 rank Flentrop tracker. Finally, the two small practice organs, located in the music building, are Schlicker trackers. One has two ranks, the other four. Dr. Betty Lumby, longtime head of the organ department, is responsible for the placement of these instruments and many others in the southeast.

Our most recent project at Mountain Brook was under the direction of Organist Joshua Coble who is currently working on his P.H.D. We made several console improvements to include adjusting the key action to AGO standards. We installed a new 2’ IV Mixture in the Swell division and moved its existing 1’ IV Mixture to the Choir, replacing its ½’ III Cymbal. The two Mixtures are now scaled to fit better in the full ensemble. The overly loud Choir 8’ Tromba and the 32’ Bombarde low 12 were sent to our reed voicer for new tongues. We spent several days re-voicing the three manual Möller.

We received a call from the Baptist Church in Florence, Alabama. They said that they were going to re-purpose their chapel and that their pipe organ was available. We found a new home for their like new Reuter organ at St. John’s Lutheran in Donelson, TN. The organ was placed in the balcony at St. John’s Lutheran which looks and sounds great. The Choirmaster/Organist Dakota Bone said that the first Sunday that he played was not only well received, but two church members wanted to join the Choir and one lady was ready to pay for additions!

After the tornadoes knocked down their historic sanctuary in January of 1999, the members had to start from scratch. They chose to install a Reiger-Kloss pipe organ from Czechoslovakia to replace their Jardine organ. It fills the back of the chancel up to the ceiling. Its tall case and polished pipes are impressive. Along with its 49 ranks of pipes, it has several Walker “ranks”. The Walker Company works with pipe organ companies to add digital voices to pipe organs. We have worked with them on several projects with great success. Under the supervision of Rev. Jared Wilson, we worked with the Walker Company to complete the prepared stops.

Needless to say, if you lived through the 70’s, you know how styles can change. Organ building was also influenced by the styles of this period. The Methodist in Tullahoma wanted to change their “modern” organ casework to a more traditional, classic look. They used design cues from the sanctuary walls, specifically the back of the chancel. Currently subdued from view, are very large arches that were painted the same color as the walls. The new case design uses these arches as their basic theme. The design was drawn by Mary Lee Hoge and built by a local woodworker Mr. Tom Gillard. We installed the case pieces, cutting to fit as needed. We also installed painted stamped metal grille replacing burlap in the open areas of the case.

              -Water Damage-

The Methodist Church in Hopkinsville, Kentucky (home of Edgar Casey) had a water leak over their Great/Pedal division causing damage to approximately twenty pouches. We removed the damaged pouch boards on a Monday and re-installed them before the Sunday service. The damage was more extensive at the Presbyterian Church in Springfield, Tennessee. The organ is a very old Möller with rare bar chests. The Swell primary pouches had to be replaced with new leather. The Great had damage in several areas. We used the downtime to have the room insulated and covered with rigid panels. The old sanctuary was built before insulation was used in construction. In both cases, we worked with the churches insurance agents to ensure that they were compensated fairly.

Don’t Overheat Your Pipe Organ!

Your sanctuary doesn’t need to be kept at a constant temperature to protect your organ. In most cases, this can damage it. Keeping your humidity between 35-60% is most important. We recommend installing a commercial humidifier on your HVAC system and keeping it set to 45%. If you can’t control the humidity in your sanctuary, we recommend an unoccupied temperature between 55 and 80 degrees. Setting the occupied temperature the night before the sanctuary is needed gives the organ enough time to settle in. If you can program your thermostat, set it to occupied temperature four hours before your sanctuary is needed.

Current Projects:    

Athens State University – Athens, AL

Holy Spirit Catholic – Huntsville, AL

First Baptist Old Hickory – Nashville, TN

Spring Hill United Methodist – Spring Hill, TN

St. Michael’s Episcopal – Cookeville, TN

spinstar[1]We are doing historical restorations on two early American tracker organs, details in our next newsletter.


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