Austin Organs

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Austin Organs, Inc.

Austin Organs, Inc. is a manufacturer of pipe organs based in Hartford, Connecticut. The company is one of the oldest continuously-operating organ manufacturers in the United States. The first instruments were built in 1893 with the Austin Patent Airchest, and many remain in fine playing condition to this day.

Austin Organ Company was founded in 1898 by John Turnell Austin in Boston, Massachusetts. Austin was from England and had come to the United States in 1889. Prior to founding the company, Austin worked for Farand and Votey in Detroit, Michigan. His first organs were manufactured in Detroit, but he established his operation in Boston, moving to Hartford shortly thereafter where integrity was the mainstay for all generations to come.

Austin developed the Universal Air Chest System. This was an airtight chamber with the chest action on the ceiling of the chamber. A feature of this system was that the chest could be entered from below while the organ was turned on; this allowed for fine adjustments of the organ keying action. The modern (current) chest design was further developed in 1913, and has been refined over the years. In 1905 the company began building electric consoles; these have also been refined over the years.

During the Second World War, the company contributed to the war effort by constructing gliders.

The company became Austin Organs, Inc. in 1937. The current president of the company is Michael B. Fazio; the CEO is Richard G. Taylor. Marilyn H. Austin, wife of former president Donald B. Austin, remains with the company as "Executive Consultant" and CEO-Emeritus. She had taken over for her daughter, the (appointed president by DBA) Kimberlee J Austin. After a "re-structuring," The company continues to build instruments in the factory located at 156 Woodland Street in Hartford, Connecticut. This four-story edifice has been home to the company since 1937. It is located behind the building where the company originally moved after Boston. Over 2700 organs have been built with the Austin nameplate.

Selected installations[edit]

  • Opus 2 - Sweetest Heart of Mary Roman Catholic Church (Detroit, Michigan) - The oldest Austin in existence. (1894)
  • Opus 167 - St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church (Manayunk, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
  • Opus 265 - The Lodge, Regency Center, 1290 Sutter, San Francisco. (1909)
  • Opus 301 - Immanuel Baptist Church (Scranton, Pennsylvania), now the Houlihan McLean Center at the University of Scranton. (1910)
  • Opus 323 - Kotzschmar Memorial Organ, Portland City Hall Auditorium, (now Merrill Auditorium), Portland, Maine. (1912)
  • Opus 453 - Balboa Park - The organ is housed in the open-air Spreckels Organ Pavilion, and is open to the elements when in use. (1914)
  • Opus 591 - Calvinistic Congregational Church (now Faith United Parish) Hamden, Connecticut.
  • Opus 770 - University United Methodist Church (Originally University Methodist Episcopal Church), Salina, Kansas (1917)
  • Opus 844 - Trinity United Methodist Church (originally Trinity Methodist Church), Kansas City, Missouri. (1919)
  • Opus 913 - Bohemian Grove, a campground near Monte Rio, California. (1920)[1]
  • Opus 1019 - First Presbyterian Church, Wyandotte, Michigan. Built in 1922, this organ has three manuals and 33 ranks. In 1983, the organ received a new console made by Schantz Organ Co., its overall value is over US$2 million.[1] Sadly, as of November 2015, this organ has since become non-functional due to an electrical malfunction with the blower motor that caused the instrument to short-circuit. Its future remains unknown at this time. On September 24, 2017, First Presbyterian Church of Wyandotte held its final worship service and has since closed after 161 years of service [2].
  • Opus 1028 ( c. 1922) St Joseph's of the Holy Family - Harlem NYC. "The NYC Organ Project"
  • Opus 1206 - Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Auditorium, Chattanooga, Tennessee. Installed in 1924 at a cost of $50,000 in Memorial Auditorium, the organ contains 81 ranks and originally had 5,261 pipes. It was restored over a 21 years long process by the Chattanooga Music Club from 1986 to 2007 and was first played in its restored form on July 2, 2007. The organ is the only Austin-manufactured one remaining in the Southeast. (1924)[2]
  • Opus 1215 - Saint Matthew Lutheran Church, Hanover, Pennsylvania. Organ has four manuals, 231 ranks, and is among the world's largest. (1924)[3]
  • Opus 1267 - First United Methodist Church, Elgin, Illinois - Restored by Rogers Instruments Corp. in 2004. Now uses a Rogers console and several ranks have been added.
  • Opus 1416 - Curtis Organ in the Irvine Auditorium of the University of Pennsylvania, with 10,719 pipes/162 ranks. It was restored along strict historical guidelines by Austin in 2002 and modified to be MIDI programmable. (1926)
  • Opus No. 1526 St. Florian Church (Hamtramck, Michigan). The organ, with 3 manuals and 26 ranks, dating from 1928, was renovated and rededicated April 13, 2008.[4][5]
  • Opus 1712 & 1713 - Scranton Cultural Center (Masonic Temple and Scottish Rite Cathedral), Scranton, Pennsylvania. Both are operable but are in need of restoration to be fully playable. 1713 is housed in the main theatre, 1712 in the larger lodge hall.
  • Opus 1717 - Aetna Inc Headquarters, Hartford, Connecticut. Built in 1929, this organ has 3 manuals and 33 stops. It is the only Austin Quadruplex organ of its kind that is still in its original installation and still remains playable. It is housed in the auditorium.[4][6]
  • Opus 1865 - Bard College, Annandale on Hudson, NY, Chapel of the Holy Innocents. 3 manuals, 47 stops.
  • Opus 2180 - Third Presbyterian Church, sanctuary, Rochester, New York. Built 1952; new console & revisions 1991, with 79 ranks and 4 manuals. Features multi-level SSL combination action with piston sequencer - 40 generals per level + divisionals - 5 each.
  • Opus 2199 - St. Patrick's Catholic Seminary and University, Menlo Park, California. The organ was built in 1955 and installed at St. Joseph's College in Mountain View, California. Moved and rebuilt after 1989 after the Loma Prieta earthquake heavily damaged the original building.
  • Opus 2237 - Bridgewater COGIC (Church of God in Christ), Cheshire, Connecticut. An organ of 7 ranks, it was purchased from St. John's Episcopal Church, West Hartford, Connecticut, in 1995.
  • Opus 2369 - First Congregational Church, Stratford, Connecticut. One of the oldest continuously operating congregations in America (first gathered in 1639). The organ, with 3 manuals and 48 ranks, is installed in their fifth sanctuary that was originally built in 1859. (1962)
  • Opus 2465 - St. Matthew's German Evangelical Lutheran Church, Charleston, South Carolina. It has 3 manuals, 47 stops, 61 ranks and electropneumatic action. (1967)
  • Opus 2613 - Church of the Good Shepherd (Rosemont, Pennsylvania) (1977)
  • Opus 2616 - Christ Church of Oak Brook, sanctuary, Oak Brook, IL. 4-manual Allen console (added in 2002), 80 ranks with 40 additional digital ranks, 4440 pipes. (1978/80/82/86)
  • Opus 2754 - First Presbyterian Church, Lakeland, Florida, with 70 stops, 60 ranks, built in 1994, the firm's 100th anniversary year.
  • Opus 2761 - St. John's Episcopal Church, West Hartford, Connecticut, with 51 stops, 64 ranks, and 3,721 pipes. It replaced Austin Opus 2123 which was destroyed in a fire in 1992.
  • Opus 2782 - Fountain Street Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan (1924; restored 2003)
  • Opus 2785 - Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament, (Detroit, Michigan) (2003)
  • Opus 2800 - Connelly Chapel of the Sacred Heart, DeSales University, Center Valley, Pennsylvania (2019)


  1. ^ Paul W. Motter (September 2003). "Remembering Wallace Sabin" (PDF). The San Francisco Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-10-07. Retrieved 2009-07-04.
  2. ^ "Auditorium Organ History" (PDF). City of Chattanooga. Retrieved 29 July 2012.
  3. ^ "Outline of St. Matthew History". 2 July 2011. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  4. ^ a b "Austin Opus List" (PDF). Austin Organs, Inc. Retrieved 2011-05-06.
  5. ^ "St. Florian's Church". September 2002. Retrieved 2011-05-05.
  6. ^ "The World's Largest Colonial Style Building". Connecticut Museum Quest. 2008-05-16. Retrieved 2017-10-16.

External links[edit]