Murray UU Church
1882 Hook & Hastings Organ

505 North Main St, Attleboro, MA 02703
 Phone: 508-222-0505
Email:   map/directions 




Youth Organ Presentation with Dr. Kevin Birch

Dr. Kevin Birch gave an excellent hour-long talk and PowerPoint slide show presentations on the history of the Hook & Hastings Organ Company, and then gave a concert to demonstrate the great variety of pipes and sounds available from our organ.  He gave the program to an enthusiastic group of thirty homeschooled children in the afternoon, and then to an appreciative audience of adults that evening.  He spent Thursday and Friday morning setting up the computer, projector, screen and PowerPoint program, and practicing and choosing the best stops of the organ to use for the concert.  He drove from his home in Bangor, Maine, just to give the program at Murray Church.

For more information about our historic Hook & Hastings organ, click here.


How We Obtained the Organ

The Organ Project - The magnificent 1882 Hook & Hastings Organ, Opus 1111 build, currently graces our sanctuary. Its dedication at Murray Unitarian Universalist Church in 1992 was the culmination of an extraordinary project. In 1977, the Music Committee began to investigate repair or replacement of the 1957 Estey tubular-pneumatic pipe organ. After securing estimates of costs, the Music Committee recommended the purchase of a new organ. In 1987 the organ project was incorporated in a comprehensive capital funds campaign, and the newly-formed Organ Committee continued the investigation. In 1989, after considering different kinds of organs and the financial resources of Murray Church, the Organ Committee recommended purchasing a rebuilt tracker organ, which would be affordable, long-lasting, and musically satisfying. We selected the Andover Organ Company and Robert C. Newton to rebuild an organ, and we registered our search with the Organ Clearing House (Harrisville, NH, Alan Laufman, Director).

We are grateful to our former minister, Harold Babcock, for his leadership, support and encouragement of the organ project. We thank the Reverend Frederick Gillis, Barbara Owen, and Carlton Russell, Professor of Music at Wheaton College, for their valuable advice.

Through the good services of the Organ Clearing House, we located the 1882 Hook & Hastings organ at St. James the Just Episcopal Church in Franklin Square, L.I., N.Y. In October 1990, under the supervision of Bob Newton, six Organ Committee members dismantled and moved the organ to the  Andover Organ Company storage facility (Martha Auerbach, Harold Babcock, John Hourigan, Gail and Norman Rainey, Mary Whelan). The Reverend John P. Nyhan and members of the congregation of St.James the Just were our gracious hosts.

During 1991 the Organ Committee worked with the Property Committee and other Murray Church members to plan for installation of the organ, while fund-raising continued. Bob and Sandy Wilson constructed a beautiful model of the chancel  to help us to visualize renovations and placement of the new organ.

Preparation of the chancel was carried out during the summer of 1992, when more than sixty Murray Church members and friends contributed their time and talents (see the Universalist, March 1, 1993). Major credit for the success of the preparation project is due to Greg Cauldwell, who supervised the renovations. Special thanks also are given to Gus Pearson, Molly O'Donnell, John Hourigan, Roy Belcher, Frank Blackbird and Pret Stevenson, who took responsibility for particular areas. Martha Auerbach and Mary Whelan coordinated the project.

The organ was rebuilt and expanded by Bob Newton and staff at the Andover Organ Company shop, and then it was brought to Murray Church in August 1992. We appreciate the artistry and excellent craftsmanship of Mr. Newton, who has taken great care in providing a fine instrument for our church.

Many people have contributed time, talent, and money to the organ project. It has been a wonderful cooperative experience. We are rewarded by the sound of the Hook & Hastings organ when it is played by our Director of Music Dennis Ferguson and other organists. The inspiration and beauty of the music continues to enrich our services and the musical life of Murray Unitarian Universalist Church now and for future generations.

Hook & Hastings 1882 Opus 1111 Organ - The Specifics

Our organ has tracker action in which there is mechanical linkage between the keys or pedals when pressed by the organist and the valve that allows air to flow into pipe(s) of the corresponding note. This is in contrast to electrical or electro-pneumatic actions, which connect the key to the valve through an electrical link or an electrically assisted pneumatic system, respectively1. Per the Organ Historical Society Database2, we are able to provide you with the following information about our organ:
  • 2 manuals. 14 speaking stops. 17 ranks.
  • Slider chests. Mechanical key action.
  • Additional notes.
    • The original builder was Hook & Hastings (1882, Opus 1111). (OHS PC Database. 2004-10-30)
    • Status Note: There 1996. (OHS PC Database. 2004-10-30)
    • Relocated from St. James Episcopal, Franklin Square, L. I., NY c. 1992. Rebuild.

Click here for the present specifications of our Hook & Hastings Organ after being rebuilt and
enlarged by the Andover Organ Company.

Our Caretakers

The Andover Organ Company and Mary Whelan

The Andover Organ Company was founded in 1948 as a direct result of the Andover Organ Institute, a summer school located on the campus of Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts. The Institute served to reintroduce the mechanical or tracker action organ into the United States. Since 1959, Andover has dealt almost exclusively with the tracker organ, building new instruments and rebuilding and restoring older instruments.

We are fortunate to have Bob Newton of the Andover Organ Company taking care of our organ. One reason for our purchase of a tracker, or mechanical organ instead of an electronic organ, was the possibility of making minor repairs ourselves. Recently a note was not playing and we called Bob who oversaw the purchase and installation of the 1882 Hook & Hastings organ in our chancel in 1992. Over the cell phone, Bob instructed us how to find the clogged pipe inside the organ, take it out  and run a dollar bill between the pipe and the piece of metal which vibrates to produce sound (U.S. currency paper is the most free of lint). The operation was successful and we had no cost for the repair. Here is some information about Bob:

Robert C. Newton
Bob, a Vermont native, was a mathematics major at the University of Vermont. He is presently a part owner of the company, and as director of the old organ department has been in charge of the restoration of several large and important organs, including the 1866 E. & G. G. Hook at Old South Church in Newburyport, MA, and the 1852 E. & G. G. Hook at the Unitarian Church in Bridgewater, MA. He is a nationally-recognized authority on E. & G. G. Hook and Hook and Hastings organs. He has served as a member of the National Council of the Organ Historical Society and has served the OHS on several convention committees. His home is a renovated church in Methuen, MA, where he has collected many antiques and musical instruments.

Thank you to Mary Whelan - In 2007, Mary Whelan established an Organ Fund at Murray Church which will not only pay for the annual maintenance of our magnificent pipe organ but also provide scholarship money to train potential organists.  All of us at Murray appreciate her generosity and giving spirit.


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