Historic 1896 George Jardine & Son Tracker Organ

“The organ has 1450 speaking tubes or pipes including 45 visible above the body of the organ, was originally operated by water pressure (now powered by an electric driven air turbine), and took 2 weeks to install with builders working each day until 1 a.m. at a cost of $4250. On Thanksgiving night in 1896 a great concert was given by William C. Carl, a famous organist of New York City, with 1500 people in attendance. For many years Mr. Lee Smith, a member of the congregation kept the organ in Tune and repair, in spite of being deaf. In the early 1950’s, during a major sanctuary renovation, the organ was rebuilt by Mr. Louis Mohr, a son of the original builder.”
— An excerpt from the 1976 pamphlet entitled The United Methodist Church at New Brunswick, about the organ

The overall tonal design of the instrument is reflective of American organ building of the 19th century.  The great division includes a well-voiced 16’ principal, and a 4’ Harmonic Flute, typical of instruments from the Jardine firm.  As such, the principals have wide scales, giving the organ a marvelously warm and enveloping quality.  Two 2’ stops and a 4-rank mixture add clarity and brilliance to the ensemble.

Among the more famous organs built by the company were the St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York; St. George’s Episcopal Church, New York; Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, New York; Brooklyn Tabernacle; St. Agnes Church, Brooklyn; Pittsburgh Cathedral (Trinity Episcopal Church); Trinity Church, San Francisco; Mobile Cathedral; and Christ Church, New Orleans.  For a more complete list of organs built by the Jardine company visit the George Jardine & Son web page at the Organ Historical Society.


Tracker Organ:

The instrument has a completely mechanical action which is known as a “tracker” organ. In a tracker organ, the organist presses keys and pulls stops which control the organ’s pipes and couplers through a complex matrix of levers and valves. In a tracker organ, the valve, which admits air to the pipe in order to produce the sound, is directly controlled by the force of the organist’s finger on the key.

The organist must overcome the wind pressure resistance on each valve in order to open it and play the pipe. When one rank is combined with another rank as a tracker organ is played, the keys generally become more difficult to depress. Another limitation of the tracker organ is that the console must remain relatively close to the pipes and wind chests. This is why most tracker organs have the console built as an integral part of the organ’s case. There are a few exceptions, but generally, the console must be no more than a few feet from the pipes.

George Jardine & Sons:

George Jardine (1800-1882) was a British barrel organ maker who immigrated to the United States in the early 1830s and established his shop in New York City.  His firm met with great success in constructing church and concert hall organs.  It is said that George Jardine was greatly influenced by his contemporary French counterparts, among them Aristide Cavaille-Cole.  The firm became the second largest organ-building house in the city behind his competitor, Henry Erban.

In 1855, George’s son, Edward, joined the firm and apprenticed under his father.    Edward took control of the firm in 1871.  George Jardine retired completely from the business in 1880.  It was under Edward’s direction and guidance we believe that the United Methodist Church of New Brunswick’s organ was built and installed.

The organ was dedicated at a Thanksgiving night recital.  The article not only describes the concert, but goes into detail about the instrument itself.  There were no pictures included in the newspaper article.  The text of the article as published in the Friday, November 27th, 1896 issue of The Daily Times reads:

The organ recital at the First M.E. Church last evening afforded the public its first opportunity to inspect the recent alterations and hear the new and magnificent organ manipulated by an artist. The church was crowded, seats being placed in the aisles of the main floor and the galleries.
The recital was under the direction of Professor William C. Carl, the famous concert organist of New York, and his selections of the various numbers on the programme was of such a wide and varied scope that every feature of the organ was brought into full play, from the softest tones to the grand and majestic strains as illustrated by the selection on the programme entitled “Storm.” This gave first the repose of nature, the dance of the shepherds and then the approach of the storm in all its wildest fury, which was loudly applauded. Then came a sweet, delicious calm and the rendition of the beautiful vesper hymn. Professor Carl merited all approbation so bounteously bestowed on him and he proved himself a thorough master of the organ.
He was ably assisted by Mrs. Antonio H. Sawyer, the contralto soloist of the First Presbyterian Church, in New York.
Apart from its many great merits as a superior musical instrument, the new organ in the First Methodist Church will attract attention and win the admiration of observers generally on account of its splendid construction and appearance. Finished in paneled quarter oak, highly polished the wood work harmonizes well with the other work of the interior of the church, while the 45 speaking tubes above the body of the organ grouped in symmetrical style are handsomely finished in pale green and yellow with decorations in arabesque designs in silver and gold which also harmonize well with the other decorations and frescoes on the walls and ceiling of the church.
The woodwork and decorations show that the best artisans have been engaged in constructing the organ. The instrument takes up the entire space of the recess at the rear of the pulpit platform, while before it is a low partition of oak, mounted with brass rails and curtains, providing a space for the use of the choir. The organ measures 22 feet in width, is 10 feet deep and 25 feet high. The details of the mechanical part of the organ show that it contains 1,450 pipes. There are 10 stops in the great organ, 12 in the swell organ, and 3 stops in the pedals. The list of stops in the great organ include trumpet, piccolo, octave quint, octave, flauto tremolo, melodia, dulciana, Gamba, open diapason, double open diapason, Boardon and violoncello.

The stops of the swell organ are bassoon, oboe, dolce cornet, violina, Rohr flute, flute harmonie, stopped diapason Boardon treble and Boardon brass. The couplers include swell to pedal, swell to great pedal. There are four combination pedals, two being to the swell organ and two to the great organ. There is a reversible combination pedal. The swell organ is all enclosed in a swell box. There are 30 notes on the pedal and 61 keys on the keyboard. All the pipes made of wood have a natural finish while the metal pipes are of the best material. The whole instrument shows the finest work as developed in modern organ building.
The new organ is operated by a water motor constructed on the most approved plans. This motor is under direct control of the organist who can operate it by turning a nickel crank at the right of the keyboard. The organ was built by the Jardine Organ Company of New York and cost over $4,000. The work of erecting it in the church consumed the greater part of two weeks and the men worked each night until 1 o’clock a.m. George Eifert has been in charge of the men. The decorations on the organ were made by Frankel & Sproccer, of New York, well known in their work in decorating churches and interiors.
— GRAND NEW ORGAN PEALS At the Remolded First Methodist Church THE RECITAL A GRAND SUCCESS Professor Carl and Mrs. Sawyer Render a Delightful Programme.
The last unaltered 19th century organ in a New Brunswick church will be rededicated with a concert this afternoon. Just after celebrating the centennial of its building, the United Methodist Church of New Brunswick has spent $60,000 to restore its 1,450-pipe 1896 Jardine organ. “It’s the only instrument from the 19th century left in New Brunswick,” said Mark Trautman, the guest organist who will play the concert with choirs from Mount Zion AME Church in New Brunswick and Trenton’s African United Methodist Church, a Liberian congregation. “It’s one of the few left that hasn’t been really changed a lot,” said Trautman, director of music at nearby Christ Church. “It’s a real period piece.”
Two years ago Trautman evaluated the decrepit instrument for the church. “It was in horrendous shape,” he said. “It was almost unplayable.” The church got estimates of $500,000 for a new organ. “Because of the historical nature of the instrument, it was certainly worth preserving rather than getting rid of it,” said the Rev. Dr. Sydney Sadio, pastor. An interracial church with many members from West Africa, the church uses a variety of bells and African drums during services. “The organ is the mainstay of the music for our worship,” Sadio added.
The church was built in 1876 on the corner of George and Liberty streets. A tower, school addition and organ were added in 1896. The American-made instrument cost $4,250 in 1896. The church dedicated as First Methodist, merged in 1961 with St. James and Pitman Methodist churches to become the United Methodist Church at New Brunswick, meeting in the First Methodist building.
Over the years, the organ had fallen on hard times. “It was kind of repaired with orange sticks and strings,” said Herman Carr, an unofficial church historian and a member since 1952. “It was very clear that the organ has potential to be restored to greatness. When I first came, there was one gentleman who was capable of repairing it. In a morning service, some key would get stuck, they couldn’t turn it off and it would make a very loud noise long after the organist wanted it to. As time went on, there would be more and more of the tones that would get stuck. There were major musical problems.”
“The wind chambers were the big problem,” said Steve Zahorbenski, chairman of the restoration committee. “We weren’t getting full sound. We were getting a lot of wheezing.” The action of the keyboard was also sluggish. “You really had to pound the keys to get any response,” he said. The $60,000 restoration bought new wind chambers, a mechanical-action overhaul, reworked pipes and a cleaning of everything from the console to the exposed pipes. “A hundred years of dust and paint chips removed,” Zahorbenski said. “It’s actually in tune for the first time in 40 or 50 years. …It’s a major improvement.”
— Restoration revives 19th-century organ at Methodist church. Byline: By Frederick Kaimann, staff writer The Home News Tribune, Saturday, November 14, 1998 issue