Bridges Auditorium
Claremont, CA
Opus 2981

Bridges Auditorium

Mabel Shaw Bridges Auditorium

          In 1931 the Estey Organ Company installed a new, large pipe organ in the Bridges Auditorium
          of Pomona College, Claremont, CA.  The auditorium and the organ were the gifts of
          Mr. and Mrs. Appleton Bridges in memory of their daughter Mabel Shaw Bridges
          who had died in 1907.
          Joseph W. Clokey
 Joseph W. Clokey, college organist, and James B. Jamison of the Estey company drew
  up the specifications for the organ.  The organ incorporated the results of Mr. Jamison's
  recent study of instruments built by prominent organ builders in Germany, England and
  France.  The instrument represents the high point of Estey's building of what may rightly
be called "symphonic" organs, and paralleles the work of other important America builders, such as
E.M. Skinner, Aeolian-Skinner, Kimball, Austin and Moeller.  As the organ was under construction in
Brattleboro, many important organists visited the factory to hear the organ (see list of names ).

However, documents in both the files of the College and the Estey company record that 
the installation was a difficult one and not particularly successful.  The chambers in
which the organ was installed were deep and widely divided on either side of the stage,
making it all but impossible for the instrument to be heard by performers on the stage,
nor properly heard by the audience.  For many years the instrument has been unused and
not maintained.

However, this instrument is clearly an important one, not only as the "magnum opus" of the 
Estey company and James B. Jamison, but also representing important early steps toward
 the so-called "organ reform movement" in the United States.


The Console

Dr. William H. Barnes, a noted organ designer of the time, in an article in "The American
Organist" (September 1931) wrote:

       "I was one of the first visitors to the Estey factory after they had a half-dozen
       stops in playable form on the factory floor, which gave an idea of a true
       Schulze Diapason Chorus.  I was very much impressed but still somewhat
       skeptical.... It was not until my last visit to the factory, about the middle of July,
       just before the Great and Swell divisions of the Claremont organ were to be
       shipped, that I became fully convinced that Mr. Jamison had obtained tangible
       and practical results of extraordinary merit."

In an extensive article in the same magazine in October 1931, Mr. Jamison describes at
great length the thinking that went into designing each stop for this important instrument:

       "As I went from country to country and heard, tried and studied the best
          features of national schools of organ design, it seemed to me that no one
          of them was entirely right or comprehensive, but that a judicious blend of
          the best features of American, English, French and German practices would
          result in the most catholic of organs, with the broadest tonal palette of all, and
          without question the most enjoyable of instruments, as well as the most majestic.

          "Therefore, the Claremont organ has a typical English Great, with one or two
          American embroideries, and one original idea of our own; a quasi-French Swell,
          an American Choir, and an American-English Solo.  There are a few German
          touches, and they are important ones.  The pedal has no claim to nationality, but is
          a rather comprehensive affair."

The Great Mixture
The Great Mixture

"The American Organist" further reported:

       "The dedicatory recital of the Estey Organ built for Claremont Colleges, Claremont, Cal.,
          took place Nov. 23 (1931), as previously announced in "The Diapason", with
          Palmer Christian of the University of Michigan at the console.  The event is described
          by the Los Angeles correspondent of "The Diapason", Dr. Roland Diggle, as the
          most important of the month in southern California and the performance of Mr. Christian
          bore out the favorable impressions of the instrument as already recorded.  Mr. Chrisian
          was in excellent form, and every number on the program was enjoyable.  The Philip
          James "Andante Cantabile" stood out, as did the Jepson "Pantomime" and the
          stunning "Rhapsodie Catalane" of Joseph Bonnet.

          "The instrument was designed by J.B. Jamison of the Estey Organ Company according
          to specifications by Professor Joseph W. Clokey, noted composers, who is organist
          of Claremont Colleges and professor of organ at Pomona College.  The instrument  represents
          what its sponsors conceive to be a new school of organ building, "for the first time
          amalgamating in a harmonious whole the age-tested traditions of American, English,
          French and German master organ builders and voicers."  The new organ was the first to
          be built by the Estey Company, following six months' study by Mr. Jamison of European
          instruments and practices, in the course of which full details of American construction, 
          scales and voicing were exchanged with such eminent European builders as Harrison & Harrison,
          Cavaille-Coll and others....."


Joseph Clokey

Palmer Christian

Wallace Sabin

George O. Lillich

Roland Diggle - Page 1

Roland Diggle - Page 2

Recital by Joseph Bonnet - December 3, 1940


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