Designed, built, and installed by the renowned firm of J.W. Walker & Sons, of Brandon, Suffolk, England, the new (A.D. 1996) Opus 188 instrument is housed in the front and center of the historic second (1837) brick Greek Revival Meetinghouse of the First Congregational Church of Darien, United Church of Christ. The Walker organ is a noble tradition of providing music to inspirit the Darien congregation. The space was once occupied by a fine two manual instrument by William A. Johnson, Op. 306, 1869. This was removed to the Shiloh A.M.E. Zion Church in Englewood, New Jersey, in 1927 to make way for a larger, two manual organ by M.P. Moeller, Op. 5158. This organ was a gift to the church and community by Mrs. Clarence W. Bell, Mrs. Francis R. Holmes, and Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Morehouse in memory of their parents. It was retired in a grand ceremony at a service of worship on Sunday, May 12, 1996.
The current Walker instrument was provided by gifts from church members and friends as part of a comprehensive plan. This included renovations to the Meetinghouse to accommodate the new organ including a redesigned and enlarged choir loft and pulpit, improved lighting, acoustical enhancements, hardwood flooring, and flexible seating for choirs, improved handicap access, and other additions to improve worship and programming needs. The funds needed for this project were raised as a capital fund effort organized by members of the church. The campaign was called “Lift Every Voice.” A percentage of the total amount of the funds raised provided a significant addition to the church’s endowment for outreach (mission).
The organ was installed and voiced by J.W. Walker builders and tonal directors in the autumn of 1996. It was dedicated on Sunday, April 13, 1997 with prayers, a celebrative concert, and joyful congregational singing.
The New Two Manual, 29 Rank Pipe Organ
by J.W. Walker & Sons, Ltd.
The detached console features mechanical key action, electromagnetic drawstop action, electronic combination action with eight level memory, French-styled terraced stop jambs of hardwood, manual naturals of polished bone and manual acccidentals of solid blackwood. The pedalboard naturals are of hard maple and the pedal sharps of maple with blackwood capping. The drawstops are of turned blackwood with inlaid, engraved discs of bone. The polished tin façade pipes are fashioned from the Great Open Diapason 8 and the Pedal Principal 8. There are 1641 pipes arranged in 22 stops.
Nancy F. Braitmayer, Organ Committee Chair
Paul Swaggart, Church Moderator
David Miller, Board of Deacons Chair
Deborah Gamber and Debbie Nelson, Music Committee Chairs
Richard Johnston, Board of Stewards Chair
R. Walden Moore, Organ Consultant
Neil Hauck, A.I.A., Renovation Architect
Andrew Pennells, Managing Director, J.W. Walker & Sons, Designer/Builder
Paul Scarbrough, Scarbrough-Jaffey, Acoustician
David DiScala, A.V. Tuchy, Inc. General Contractor
Manny Bruno, Site Foreman