Metro

Medford church’s 1885 organ restored to original splendor

Restorer David E. Wallace worked behind the facade pipes (upper left), making pipe adjustments during tonal finishing, as associates Jake Hanin (left) and Nick Wallace worked at the console.
Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff
Restorer David E. Wallace worked behind the facade pipes (upper left), making pipe adjustments during tonal finishing, as associates Jake Hanin (left) and Nick Wallace worked at the console.

MEDFORD — Drawing from Psalm 50:23,“Whoso offereth praise glorifieth the Lord” is inscribed in calligraphy on the 1885 organ in Medford’s Grace Episcopal Church.

Since its installation more than 130 years ago, the E. & G. G. Hook & Hastings organ has been touched up now and then, including a conversion from mechanical to electric in the 1950s. But last April marked the beginning of a much-needed total renovation, the first the organ has ever received.

The renovation, done by David E. Wallace & Co. Pipe Organ Builders of Gorham, Maine, came to a close last month with the final tuning. David Wallace, his son Nick, and associate Jake Hanin had been working on the organ for almost a year. Now the walnut wood gleams, and the keyboard pegs match the original font of 1885.

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“You could write a 400-page book about what goes into this,” Nick Wallace said.

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The organ is a massive instrument. The visible golden pipes are among more than 10,000 parts, including the hidden box called a reservoir that uses pressurized air to make the 1,010 pipes sing. Inside the organ — large enough to stand up in — everything is new, relatively spacious, and tidy.

“When we first went inside,” Nick Wallace said, “We came out looking like coal miners.”

A layer of dust coated the rusting pipes, some of which hadn’t been touched in years. After workers created plenty of space, cleaned, and fixed any problems — and even installed a wall behind it for better acoustics — the organ works and sounds much better.

“Before, the organ was gasping for air,” David Wallace said. “It’s rewarding to take an organ that was on its last limb, and really decrepit, to then have it full of life, and to make music like it did in 1885.”

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The organ is the last in a series of renovations funded through the church’s 2011 capital campaign, which also restored the bell tower, the bells, the heating system, and the back wall of the 1868 church. The Rev. Noah Evans said he noticed the organ needed work on his first day with the church about eight years ago. After a year without organ music, Evans is glad to have it up and running again.

“Our congregation loves to sing,” he said. While they did have a piano, “There was a fullness to the organ that was missing. It’s all about inspiring people to serve the world through worship.”

The organ will be blessed by the Rev. Alan M. Gates, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, at a special service at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

Detail of the console shows the keyboards, stop knobs, and pedalboard of the 1895 organ.
Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff
Detail of the console shows the keyboards, stop knobs, and pedalboard of the 1895 organ.
Almost a year ago, on April 13, 2015, workers started removing the pipes from the Grace Episcopal Church organ.
David Wallace
Almost a year ago, on April 13, 2015, workers started removing the pipes from the Grace Episcopal Church organ.

Christina Bagni can be reached at christina.bagni@globe.com.