About Grace & Holy Trinity Church

The Grace & Holy Trinity Church Organ

The Holy Trinity building, completed in about 1894, contained a mechanical-action Hook & Hastings organ. When Holy Trinity and Grace Churches merged in 1924, Hook & Hastings enlarged the organ, using their new electro-pneumatic action to operate the existing windchests. The original Holy Trinity console was attached on the left side; the new console was detached on the right side. The organ had an abundance of unison tone. Perhaps the most unusual thing about the organ was that the very rare Hook & Hastings orchestral flute stop existed in both the main organ and in the Echo division. These pipes were made without traditional mouths; a tube conveyed wind from the toe to the hole in the side of the pipe, so they could be blown just like an orchestral flute.

Evidently the original windchests had problems, so that by the time of World War II, the organ needed to be rebuilt. The Tellers firm of Erie, Pennsylvania was very active in Richmond at this time, having rebuilt the organ in the Roman Catholic Cathedral, so they were given the contract to rebuild and enlarge the organ. The console shell was retained, and most of the pipes were replaced with the Tellers ventil windchests, and more stops were added, again mainly unison and solo stops.

By the 1970s the ventil chests and the console were beginning to show their age. In 1979, a new Austin organ was installed. The Hook & Hastings was sold, except for a few stops that were retained, such as the Pedal 16′ Open Wood, and the Antiphonal Gedeckt, Viole, Octave and Pedal Bourdon and Diapason.

After the initial installation, additions were made through the years, such as the Trompette en Chamade in the back. This Gallery Trumpet (installed in 1996) was made possible by a gift in memory of Richard Caswell Cooke, Sallie Lewis Broaddus and Gray Massie Broaddus. Additional stops were derived from existing resources in the main organ.

At some point the console was also converted from electro-mechanical combination action to solid-state. However, the work was entrusted to different firms at different times, each using the type of action they preferred. The result was a confusing array of devices that sometimes were not fully compatible. In addition there was metal fatigue in the largest reed pipes of the organ, the 32′ Bombarde.

Lewis & Hitchcock recommended converting the organ to one system of operation, so that everything would be compatible. In 2004 the console was removed to their factory, where it was fitted with a new system designed by the Peterson Electro-Musical Company of Chicago, Illinois. This system was recommended because of the simplicity of operation, and the reliability of the components, as well as the support available from the company. A matching system was installed in the organ chamber. All the information is sent from the console over an Ethernet cable. This data stream can be manipulated by a Transposer or recorded by a Sequencer. Each organist has a data bank available to keep combinations which may be locked. Crescendos and Full Organ settings may be revised to suit the music. As the system is software-based, it can be updated.

In 2008 a gift in memory of Freda Hatcher Rollings was made for a moveable organ console. The moveable console enhances the music ministry and our concert series at Grace and Holy Trinity by making our wonderful organ more accessible, and the organ music more meaningful to the congregation and community.