First United Methodist Church - Elgin
The Austin pipe organ at First United Methodist Church in Elgin, Illinois was originally built in 1924. It was an impressive 3-manual organ of around 39 ranks that used their unique universal windchests. During the late '60s the organ was removed from the church and re-scaled at the Austin factory according to the “new” demands of the Organ Reform Movement. Unfortunately, this change negatively impacted the presence and overall sound of the organ in the worship space. By 2001, there were also several mechanical, tuning and tonal projection issues that also needed to be addressed.
In 2005, a group was formed to look into the expansion or refurbishment of the Austin organ. After visiting the First Presbyterian Church in River Forest, Illinois, it was clear to the group that such a versatile and beautiful instrument would clearly meet all of the challenges that faced their Austin organ. A plan was drawn up by S.B. Smith & Associates to install a new “Diapason Chorus” in front of the two main chambers, along with a new Gallery Division of pipes (along with a beautiful new Trompette en Chamade built by Fratelli Ruffatti) that would project sound throughout the nave.
All 60 ranks, plus several additional digital ranks, are now controlled by a custom IV-Manual Rodgers console that includes a state-of-the-art MIDI system. In 2008, Hector Olivera played a program on the organ to a nearly full house. It was clear to everyone in attendance that this is now an instrument that can handle any piece of literature for concert and worship. The organ is played every Sunday on the Church’s radio broadcast, which can be heard on WRMN (AM 1410) at 11:00 AM.