J. Zebulon and Winnifred Green, donors of the organ, were interested in restoring an older organ, preferably one from the nineteenth century, rather than commissioning an entirely new instrument. The Greens had been very much impressed with the large, restored 1893 Woodberry & Harris tracker organ in First Presbyterian Church of Waynesboro, Virginia, a church which, after a fire burned the sanctuary to the ground, opted to restore a nineteenth-century organ, and even went so far as to design a new sanctuary around it! The Greens made the decision to donate a complete organ in December 1992, and asked son Ed Zimmerman to head up the search. By March 1993, with the help of Don Olson and John Morlock of Andover Organ Company, and Alan Laufman of the Organ Clearing House, a beautiful instrument by George S. Hutchings had been located.
The new organ was originally built as George S. Hutchings Opus 499, 1900, for Pope Memorial Methodist Church of Cohasset, Massachusetts, and, after the congregation either dispersed or merged with another, the organ was sold to the Nativity of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church, also in Cohasset. For Lexington, the organ received an entirely new case, structure, key action and key desk, in addition to a number of tonal changes and additions. The old reservoir, swell box, and manual chests were retained. Originally consisting of six stops, the Great was enlarged to nine, to include a recycled Twelfth (formerly a Hook & Hastings Violina 4′), and new Fifteenth, Mixture, and Trumpet. The original 8′ Open Diapason was found to be severely damaged, and was replaced with a Hook & Hastings treble, with the new polished tin bass pipes in the façade. The original, large-scale Melodia, labeled ‘Gross Flöete,’ was deleted in favor of a Hutchings Doppelflöte, the American answer to the French open 8′ harmonique flute. “With two mouths instead of one and constructed of wood with closed tops, the stop is ravishing in its beauty and bold in its carrying power.” The Swell organ originally had nine stops, and was enlarged to ten with the addition of a Cornet solo stop. The Salicional is the former Great Dolcissimo rescaled one note larger at tenor C. The Voix céleste is the former Swell Salicional. The old Aeoline and Violina were recycled as components of the Cornet III. As a replacement for the Hutchings Violina, a Hook & Hastings Principal 4′ was substituted, thus giving the Swell its own Principal Chorus, as a foil to the Great. In addition, a Hook & Hastings Hautbois was substituted for the old Hutchings Fagotto. The Pedal organ was considerably expanded from two stops to nine. On straight tracker action are Pedal Principals 8′ and 4′, the new Trombone 16′ and 8′, and he original large-scale Bourdon 16′. On pneumatic action are a 1927 Moeller 16′ Double Open Wood, and the Lieblich Gedeckt which share its bottom twelve notes with the Swell Bourdon.
For its new home, the south chamber was prepared to receive the organ, and the north chamber was closed up. The old tubular-pneumatic Pilcher (Henry Pilcher & Sons, Louisville), having given the church worthy service for over sixty years both in its old home in the pre-1963 sanctuary and in the new, was moved out by volunteers to yet another home in Lexington, to serve Bethany United Methodist Church. The organ was designed to blend with the elegant simplicity of the architectural design of the Chancel and Sanctuary. The two beautiful pipe shades at the top of the display pipes were hand-carved. Then new console was moved from a deep pit at the far corner of the Chancel to its present more appropriate location. At First Presbyterian, one of the larger issues was acoustical. So for the new organ, the heavy carpet, which originally covered the entire Chancel floor and across the area in front of the Pulpit and Lectern, was removed in favor of a beautiful new oak parquet floor. The result is a more lively musical sound than otherwise, as well as offering an improvement in speech characteristics by accentuating consonants. The successful result of this organ is a major contribution to the musical and spiritual life not only of the congregation but also of the community. It is the hope and prayer of donors, builders, and all those associated with the installation, that the organ would be used and used extensively both for the Church and for the community, that the glories of the great music performed continue to inspire, encourage, comfort, and edify all those who hear it. Even though it is an historic organ, it should not be a museum piece, but rather dynamic asset for organists and listeners alike — particularly for those budding organ students who are so desperately needed in these days.
Our organ was featured in the 2001 Organ Historical Society Annual Convention. Dr. Edward Zimmerman, son of Mrs. Green, played the organ.