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[This is the second and final installment of a two part posting begun last week]
 
The First Baptist Church of Essex is right next door to Our Lady of Sorrows RC Church.   The 1846 white frame church building is in the very rare Egyptian Revival style.  It has a facade that slopes inward and has the shape of a pylon of an ancient Egyptian temple.  The Baptist church is home to a 13 stop Steere & Turner organ, Opus 2670 of 1888.  The organ was designed for this church and is located in the front behind the pulpit.  It still has its original 1888 painted facade in red, brown and gold banding; the facade is in a remarkable state of preservation.  The case is polished chestnut, something I had never seen.  There were some tonal changes made around 1930, when the original hand pumped double rise bellows was replaced with a modern single rise bellows.  The organ was cleaned and repaired by Alan McNeely in 1992, but the tonal changes were left as they were.  A new Zephyr blower was installed behind the organ in 2004. 
 Even with the changes this organ remains in fine playing condition, and we were all impressed with its versatility and effectiveness in both literature and accompaniments.  I pointed out to the Crawl attendees that the organ has three pedals for registration: Great Forte, Great Piano, Great to Pedal reversible.  This church and organ had been a late addition to our itinerary, and we were all very glad that we were able to include it.
 
The next stop was the Congregational Church in East Haddam, CT.  This 1794 white frame meetinghouse was the oldest church building we visited on the Crawl.  The church building retains many original features, including hand riven clapboards laid down with rose headed wrought nails, the original door with its hand forged iron hardware, box pews, original double hung window sash with much 18th century glass, and a very striking raised pulpit that has two "flying" spiral staircases.  The pulpit is raised about 10 feet in the air; we were told by the gentleman who let us in that a speaker can be clearly heard all over the church without any artificial amplification at all, even though the building is not particularly live.  Clearly modern architects and acousticians could learn a great deal here! 
The organ is a two manual 13 George H. Ryder, his Opus 140 of 1891.  Alas, this is an example of what not to do to an old organ: in 1973 an attempt was made to "modernize" the instrument.  A rather cheaply made console with plastic keys was fitted to the organ, and the stop action was electrified.   Several of the original stops were replaced, and the organ was revoiced in neo-Baroque style.  In 1995 some of these changes were reversed by Andover, and a new mechanical action stop action was fitted to the instrument.  Though the organ bears little resemblance to the original Ryder installation, it is still quite an effective instrument, no doubt due to Andover's fine work.  
 
I had saved the best for last, as the last stop on the Crawl was the Second Congregational Church in the lovely little hamlet of Middle Haddam.  The congregation was established in 1855, when they began to meet in the former Methodist Episcopal Church.  They had that building moved about a block down the street to its present site in 1864, and in 1877 they commissioned the prominent New Haven architect, Henry Austin, to enlarge the church in Victorian carpenter Gothic Revival style.  The asymmetrical facade is typical of Austin's work in this style, with towers of differing heights at each end.  The facade is a Victorian confection of gables, scroll work, brackets, and turned columns with board and batten siding.  
 
But it was the organ we had come to see: a two manual 1827 Thomas Appleton organ that is a near twin to the 1830 Appleton in the Metropolitan Museum in New York.  Both organs have spectacular cases of very artistically chosen highly figured mahogany, with fine carvings in the manner of high style Empire case furniture--the Appleton family were some of the best cabinet makers in Boston-- and gilded facade pipes.  American organs made before 1830 are quite rare, and this is certainly one of the finest surviving examples of its period.  The organ retains its 58 note GGG.AAA-f3 manual compass, though unfortunately there are no longer any pipes for the bottom 4 notes. The organ was built for All Souls Unitarian Church in NYC, but in 1844 it was sold and moved to First Church in Middletown, Connecticut.  In 1873 the church in Middletown replaced the Appleton with a larger organ by Steere & Turner, and the organ was again sold and moved to the
 church in Middle Haddam.  In 1950 the Middle Haddam church bought a Hammond electronic, which is still there in the church, and the pipework of the Appleton was removed and given away to members of the church.  The speakers of the Hammond were placed on top of the windchests of the Appleton--what a travesty!  Finally in 1988 a movement to have the organ restored gained momentum; out of attics, barns, and storage closets came many of the pipes that had been given away in 1950.  The Appleton was taken down the next year and sent to the Brooklyn workshop of Mann & Trupiano, who had restored the Met organ.  So after 162 years, the organ returned to a part of the city where it had originally been installed.  The restoration took three years, and it is truly museum quality work.  The tone of the Appleton is very sweet and mild, in the manner of 18th century English chamber organs.  It is a perfect vehicle for playing English voluntaries of
 the 18th and early 19th centuries.    
 
As an "afterglow", Ed Odell of J.H. & C.S. Odell in the Moodus section of East Hampton (about a fifteen minute drive from the church in Middle Haddam) had invited us to a festive Open House at his new shop.  The champagne corks popped, the bubbly flowed liberally, and we enjoyed the elegant and delicious hors d'oeuvres, as we got a chance to see the firm's work on its latest project, a rebuild of the Moller organ in St. Malachy's Church in New York.  It was a convivial occasion, and a wonderful conclusion to an enjoyable day of organs, architecture, scenery, and camaraderie.
 
Stephen Roberts
AGO District Convener for CT and RI
Western Connecticut State University, Danbury, CT  

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