Thursday, 30 May 2019 08:51

FCC Wurlitzer To Be Removed

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We received word last week that First Christian Church intends to remove the Wurlitzer pipe organ from their Fellowship Hall.

This information came in the form of an email to VOTS President, John Bittner, from Doug Supplee of the First Christian Church facilities staff.   According to Mr. Supplee, the organ hasn't been used in quite some time and the church will be relocating the organ within the next 45 days to either their storage facility, or a new home, if one can be found in time.

Declining Use

The nine rank instrument, owned by the church, was installed in the hall with the help of VOTS members several decades ago.  Over the years, VOTS has maintained the instrument in return for having access to the hall for meetings and other events that were held several times a year.  In recent years, our use of the instrument has declined along with our membership.  Because the organ chambers are not air conditioned, maintenance and tuning requiring from several hours up to a day or more was necessary prior to each program.  With the passing of crew chief Tom Fizzell in 2016, as well as an increasing need of repairs for the aging instrument, performing this work became more burdensome due to the lack skilled personel. In addition, member interest in programs and meetings held there declined to the point that holding meetings there was relegated to a status of low priority due to poor attendence and the effort required to get the organ prepared.

A Missed Opportunity

In 2014, an agreement was drafted by the church that would have transferred the ownership of the organ to VOTS in return for continued maintenance in its current location.  The church's board, however, changed its mind and the agreement was never executed.  Now that the church has decided to remove the organ, they have once again offered it to our chapter.  As VOTS does not have a suitable home for organ and lacks the manpower to remove it, VOTS has regrettably declined this offer. 

Cost of Removal

Removing the organ will be an expensive proposition.  The pipe chambers are located  above of the stage on both sides and many of the percussions are suspended from the ceiling.  The access hatches to the chambers are too small even for people of a certain size to enter, so there is no possibility of removing the large chests through them.  The chamber shutters will have to be taken out so the organ can be removed through chamber openings with the help of a scissor lift.  The church has received a preliminary estimate of $12,000 to $15,000 for professional removal which also includes the disconnection of the console, removal of the blower from the basement, and construction of pipe boxes for crating the pipes.  Professional removal was estimated to take seven to ten days. 

At this time, it is not known how the church will remove the organ or whether a new home has been found for it.

Read 2559 times Last modified on Thursday, 30 May 2019 12:21


  • Comment Link Joe Peterzak Saturday, 20 July 2019 16:34 posted by Joe Peterzak

    John Bittner, can we have a new update on the organ, and what has happened since May 30th, 2019 ??

    Joe Peterzak in east Mesa.


  • Comment Link John Bittner Friday, 31 May 2019 08:12 posted by John Bittner

    @Johnny Sharp. At best a mixed bag. If the agreement had been executed, we'd be on the hook for its removal. On the other hand, had we owned the organ there might have been more incentive to spend the time and money maintaining it and we would have been better informed as to the church's plans. Forty-five days notice is not enough time to remove and relocate this instrument.

  • Comment Link Fred Thursday, 30 May 2019 13:15 posted by Fred

    John, thanks for keeping the website going. Sorry to hear the WCC instrument seems nearing the end of the line. Many have fond memories.

  • Comment Link Johnny Sharp Thursday, 30 May 2019 13:04 posted by Johnny Sharp

    We had paperwork on 2014 for that exchange. But Church board never followed through with it. We were concerned about the future plans of that building.
    Probably a blessing for VOTS at this point.

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