The Pohick organ was built by the Noack Organ Co., of Georgetown Mass., in 1968. The organ case was designed by Charles Fisk and Mr. Fritz Noack. The engravings were the work of Mr. Roger Martin. Mr. John Fesperman of the Smithsonian Museum was the consultant to Pohick Church.
Following the style of the time, the organ was conceived according to the principles of the Orgel bewegung or organ reform movement which began in Europe in the late 1950s. This was a return to classical organ building as it was practiced in the 17th and 18th centuries. The organ’s style followed the Germanic school with an emphasis on brightness and articulation. The two manual divisions were built as contrasting organs both tonally and spatially.
After thirty years of constant use the organ was showing its age with worn out and broken parts, damaged and dented pipes, leaking wind systems, and a tonal scheme that was no longer in keeping with the demands of the growing Pohick Church. In 2004, the church engaged David Storey of Baltimore to rebuild the instrument and repair many of the faults that had appeared. It was decided to expand the tonal resources of the organ as well and make it more suitable for hymn and choir accompanying and better at leading an American church service that has evolved from the English Anglican communion.
In its original design the organ had 13 stops with a total of 17 ranks and 880 pipes. There was one 8’ stop in each division. The new design placed more emphasis on the 8’ pitch by including stops that are necessary to lead strong congregational singing as well as accompany choir anthems. There are now 16 stops on the organ for a total of 18 ranks and 948 pipes.
The additional stops were added to the Great division, the main division which resides in the body of the case just above the keyboards. We wanted to stress the 8’ line so we added a Diapason for fullness in hymn singing and a soft String stop for delicate accompanimental purposes. Further, we decreased the size of the Mixture, and added a Twelfth for more color. We moved the Sesquialtera to the Positiv so all five pitches of a Cornet would be together. This now provides a bright and biting solo stop in the Positiv division. It was also decided to add a reed stop to the organ.
Due to limited space, we elected to have the existing Pedal Trumpet rebuilt and extended by 24 pipes so it could be played from the Great as well as the Pedal. This will be very useful for weddings and other processions. The Great now has a very complete tonal palette for a small organ and will offer many more varieties of sound for the discerning organist.
To fit the additional pipes into the case we moved 14 of the very largest wooden pipes out of the case. They now stand against the back wall behind the organ. These are the lowest pitches of the pedal stops. We built a new 9 stop slider wind chest for the Great with a totally new key and stop action. The Positiv and Pedal wind chests, pipes, key and stop action remained unchanged. The organ retains all of its pipes save the original Mixture and Larigot. Additional work included cleaning and refinishing the manual and pedal keys, cleaning the gold leafed carvings, redesigning the wind system for proper operation, repairing and painting the case, repairing and polishing the tin façade pipes and providing all new stop knobs.
The organ was rededicated on February 5, 2005 at a service of Evensong that included a recital by Victoria Shields Harding, Pohick’s Minister of Music. Hymn and instrumental selections ranged from the Baroque through Contemporary periods, demonstrating the organ’s new versatility. Our thanks goes out to the many contributors to this restoration, as well as to all the orginal benefactors. Their generosity will help enrich Pohick’s congregational worship for many years to come.
David M. Storey founded his business in Baltimore, MD, in 1985 after working seven years for other organ builders. With regular customers between Wilmington, DE, and Burlington, NC, including the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, the Storey firm stays busy building, servicing and tuning more than 100 instruments each year.