St. John’s Luther­an Church, 511 – 523 Race Street, Philadel­phia, Penn­syl­va­nia (Pho­to — 1924)
J.H. & C.S. Odell (1877)

Historic Organ Award Application


Since 1975, OHS has iden­ti­fied spe­cif­ic pipe organs as hav­ing his­tor­i­cal, cul­tur­al, and musi­cal sig­nif­i­cance by pre­sent­ing cer­tifi­cates of recog­ni­tion. Until 2011, these cer­tifi­cates were called His­toric Organ Cita­tions, and at that time 409 instru­ments had been so recognized.

In 2013, the cita­tions pro­gram was revised and named His­toric Pipe Organ Awards. The new pro­gram con­tin­ues to place high­est val­ue on pipe organs that remain unal­tered in their orig­i­nal loca­tions. Fur­ther, pipe organs must in gen­er­al have been main­tained in their his­toric state for at least fifty years before they are con­sid­ered for an award, although excep­tions may be allowed if cir­cum­stances war­rant. Framed cer­tifi­cates are pre­pared and pre­sent­ed by an OHS offi­cial or des­ig­nate, usu­al­ly dur­ing a spe­cial recital or pro­gram or, if appro­pri­ate, dur­ing a spe­cial wor­ship ser­vice. The cer­tifi­cates remain the prop­er­ty of OHS and are retained by the own­er and dis­played pub­licly so long as the pipe organ retains its his­toric characteristics.

The His­toric Pipe Organ Awards pro­gram is designed in accord with the OHS Guide­lines for Con­ser­va­tion and Preser­va­tion and includes dif­fer­ent types of awards, each one dis­tinct in the way it rec­og­nizes the his­toric sig­nif­i­cance of a pipe organ.

General requirements for any Historic Organ Award

Awards are pre­sent­ed to organs of any peri­od or style of organ­build­ing, so long as they are installed in a man­ner appro­pri­ate for their style. Instru­ments in stor­age or erect­ed tem­porar­i­ly in loca­tions for demon­stra­tion pur­pos­es are there­fore not eleg­i­ble to receive awards.

An organ must be an exam­ple of excel­lence in organ­build­ing to receive an award. The spe­cif­ic way excel­lence is deter­mined in an instru­ment is up to the col­lec­tive judg­ment of the His­toric Organ Awards Committee as it con­sid­ers both mechan­i­cal and tonal prop­er­ties of the organ in question.

An organ must be in an unal­tered state for a peri­od of at least 50 years in order to receive an award. An organ not in its orig­i­nal home may be eli­gi­ble, but must retain its orig­i­nal mechan­i­cal and tonal prop­er­ties. Sim­i­lar­ly, nei­ther restora­tive repairs nor full restora­tions pre­vent an organ from receiv­ing an award, so long as the organ’s tonal and mechan­i­cal prop­er­ties are intact and unal­tered. Recent restora­tions should be made in accor­dance with the OHS Guide­lines for Con­ser­va­tion and Preservation.

On the oth­er hand, organs that have been mod­i­fied in a sig­nif­i­cant way may be con­sid­ered for an award when those mod­i­fi­ca­tions have been in use for a peri­od of 50 years or more.

Specific Historic Organ Awards

An organ may be des­ig­nat­ed a Nation­al Her­itage Pipe Organ when it meets all gen­er­al require­ments for OHS His­toric Organ Awards and is of demon­strat­ed and doc­u­ment­ed artis­tic, musi­cal, social or his­toric value.

An organ may be des­ig­nat­ed a Land­mark of Amer­i­can Organ­build­ing when it meets all gen­er­al require­ments for OHS His­toric Organ Awards, is of demon­strat­ed and doc­u­ment­ed artis­tic, musi­cal, social or his­toric val­ue, and when it also has some dis­tinc­tive or unique fea­ture that indi­cates a place of impor­tance in the his­tor­i­cal devel­op­ment of organ­build­ing in the USA.


Any­one can nom­i­nate an organ for a His­toric Pipe Organ Award: mem­ber­ship in the Soci­ety is not required. (Of course, we are always hap­py to wel­come new mem­bers, too!) Fur­ther details are includ­ed in the two links below. The first is to a one-page Awards Appli­ca­tion form, which must be sub­mit­ted as part of the nom­i­na­tion or appli­ca­tion for either of the awards list­ed above. 

The sec­ond is to a detailed descrip­tion of the infor­ma­tion and sup­port­ing doc­u­ments that must accom­pa­ny any nomination.

Nominate a Pipe Organ


Historic Pipe Organ Awards Application Form

PDF Format
May be printed out

Historic Pipe Organ Required Support Materials

PDF Format
May be printed out