Kansas City, Missouri

Grand Avenue Methodist Church

Grand Avenue Methodist Church (Kansas City, MO)
Grand Avenue Methodist Church (Kansas City, MO)
Ernest M. Skinner organ, Op. 190 (1910) in Grand Avenue Methodist Church (Kansas City, MO)
Builder:        The Ernest M. Skinner Co.
   Year:        1910
   Opus:        190
No. manuals:    4
No. stops:      70
No. ranks:      55
No. pipes:      3,400
                GREAT ORGAN (6" wind)                   SWELL ORGAN (8" wind)
            16' Bourdon             17 PED          16' Bourdon             73
             8' Philomela          PED               8' Diapason            73 a
             8' First Diapason      61 a             8' Spitz Flute         73
             8' Second Diapason     61               8' Gedeckt             73
             8' Waldflöte           61               8' Salicional          73
             8' Erzähler            61               8' Voix Celeste        73
             4' Octave              61               8' Flute Celeste II   110 b
             4' Flute               61               8' Aeoline             73
         2 2/3' Twelfth             61 (1951)        8' Unda Maris II      134
             2' Fifteenth           61 (1951)        4' Octave              73
             8' Tuba                SO               4' Flute               61
                Chimes (in SW)      20 tubes         2' Flautino            61
                                                   III  Mixture (12.15.17) 183
                CHOIR ORGAN (7" wind)               16' English Horn        73
            16' Gamba               73               8' Cornopean           73
             8' Diapason            73               8' Oboe                73
             8' Gamba               73               4' Clarion             61
             8' Concert Flute       73                  Tremolo
             8' Quintaton           73
             8' Dulcet II          146                  PEDAL ORGAN
             4' Flauto Traverso     61              32' Diapason (8")       32
         2 2/3' Nazard              61 (1951)       16' Diapason            12
             2' Piccolo             61              16' Violone             32 (in case)
         1 3/5' Tierce              61 (1951)       16' First Bourdon       32
         1 1/3' Larigot             61 (1951)       16' Second Bourdon      SW
         1 1/7' Septième            61 (1951)       16' Gamba               CH
             8' Clarinet            73          10 2/3' Gross Quint         -- (1st Bourdon)
             8' English Horn        73               8' Octave              12
             8' Vox Humana          73               8' Gedeckt             12
                Tremolo                              8' Gamba               CH
                Carillons           61 bars          V  Cornet Mixture     190
                                                    16' Ophicleide          SO
                SOLO ORGAN (7" wind)                16' English Horn        SW
             8' Philomela          PED               8' Tuba                SO
             8' Gamba               GT               4' Clarion             SO
             8' Concert Flute       CH
             4' Flauto Traverso     CH                  COUPLERS
            16' Ophicleide (20")    61                  Swell to Pedal      8  4
             8' Tuba                12                  Choir to Pedal      8  4
             8' Clarinet            CH                  Great to Pedal      8
             8' English Horn        CH                  Solo to Pedal       8  4
             8' Orchestral Oboe     CH                  Swell to Great  16  8  4
             8' Vox Humana          CH                  Choir to Great      8
             4' Clarion             12                  Solo to Great   16  8  4
                Tremolo                                 Swell to Choir      8
                Carillons           CH                  Swell to Swell  16     4
                                                        Choir to Choir  16     4
                COMBINATION ACTION                      Solo to Solo    16     4
                General        1-2                      Great to Great         4
                Great Organ    1-2-3-4
                Swell Organ    1-2-3-4-5                EXPRESSION
                Choir Organ    1-2-3-4                  Balanced Swell Pedal
                Solo Organ     1-2-3-4                  Balanced Choir-Solo Pedal
                Pedal Organ    1-2-3-4 (toe)            Crescendo Pedal
                Great to Pedal (toe paddle, pneumatically activated)
                Sforzando (hitch-down toe paddle)
             a  leathered lips
             b  1948, replacing Claribel Flute
             c  in case

Source: Allen Kinzey

Photo #1 Source: David Lewis.

Photo #2 & #3 Source: Jeff Scofield.

Notes: The following is from the booklet accompanying the CD of Frederick Hohman performing on Opus 190. The recording, which completely captures the sound of the organ (including start-up and shut-down sounds!) is available through Pro Organo and the Organ Historical Society.

"In 1909, the rapidly growing congregation of Grand Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, elected to erect a new building to house not only the church facilities, but also an adjoining 12-story office tower. Completed in 1912, the Greek revival design of the church later became known as the Grand Avenue Temple and its office tower as the Temple Building.The Temple's 1500-seat amphitheater-style church auditorium is almost square, with a 30' high flat, classically ornate grid-type ceiling. This auditorium and the Ernest M. Skinner pipe organ which resides in it have never been altered from their original designs. The church lost ownership of the office tower during the Great Depression. After a series of transactions, today it is the Federal Reserve Bank which owns every other parcel of land on the block except that place where the Grand Avenue Temple remains. Although the Federal Reserve Bank has offered to acquire the Grand Avenue Temple for additional parking space, to date no offer has been accepted, and the downtown church, one of only five churches in downtown Kansas City, lives on. Like the congregation, so lives Opus 190. Its longevity is due in great part to the service and restorative repairs performed since 1971 by Mr. Michael Quimby of Warrensburg, Missouri. While many restorations of vintage pipe organs routinely update mechanical, tonal and cosmetic aspects of organs, Michael Quimby and his associate, Mr. Eric Johnson, have only cleaned and repainted as necessary, preserving the original instrument's looks, smells and, most importantly, its sounds. Although it would be cheaper in most cases to simply replace an old electro-pneumatic console with more efficient, new designs, all original console parts of Opus 190 have been painstakingly restored according to the 1912 specifications and designs. These efforts all ensure that the original E. M. Skinner sound, which is affected in a small way by the nature of the construction, is preserved, warts and all.

"Opus 190 was dedicated along with the new "Grand Avenue Temple" building in a series of events from February 11-18, 1912. This instrument embodies, intact to this day, Mr. Skinner's early tonal ideals. Pipe chambers are constructed of poured-in-place concrete with hard plaster walls. The organ spans the entire 70-foot wall in the front of the auditorium. At the center of the instrument, the chamber is only 3 feet deep and most of the organ pipe work is located on the left and right sides. Yet, the impression of the organ in the room is remarkably cohesive. This is because the expression shades open towards the middle of the facade rather than directly out into the auditorium.

"Opus 190 has a typical early Skinner console � by comparison to his four-manual organs built after 1920, Opus 190 has a limited combination action. There are only two general pistons (neither of which affect coupler rails) and no general cancel. Opus 190 gets its 26" static wind pressure from an original 15-horsepower D.C. Century-motor. The organ action is a very fast pitman design with double-stage primaries.

"In 1948, Ernest Skinner, at age 83, returned to Grand Avenue Temple to replace the Swell division Claribel Flute with a fine two-rank Flute Celeste. Also, under Mr. Skinner's suggestion, minor additions were made as follows: Two ranks to the Great division, four mutations to the Choir division, and one mixture to the Pedal division. In 1949, Mr. Skinner urged the congregation to never let anyone remove or change his instrument."

Organ Historical Society Database: https://pipeorgandatabase.org/OrganDetails.php?OrganID=5632