‘Largest Private Pipe Organ West of the Mississippi’ Being Restored in Burien
Resident John White sent us this pic – showing Chelsea Thompson and Tom Britanyak working on restoring the ‘largest private pipe organ west of the Mississippi’ – at the historic Forest Ledge Mansion in Burien’s Seahurst neighborhood (click image to see larger version):
White told The B-Town Blog that full restoration of the historic instrument will cost in excess of $200K.
“It’s going to take me a couple of years to clean everything up, but things are looking much better than first thought,” said Thompson.
The pipe organ suffered from neglect, water damage and aging, but is currently being restored along with the rest of the mansion, which White hopes to live in eventually.
According to Britanyak:
The organ at Seahurst is a large Kilgen theater style organ complete with a large assortment of percussion devices such as chimes, vibraharp, xylophone, marimba, tuned sleigh bells and a wonderful assortment of “toys” like crash cymbals, train whistles, car horns and drums. The console is very large and has an unusual architecture and stop layout…not like the typical horseshoe theater instrument.
The goal is to restore the instrument to full playing capability via a number of avenues, while maintaining the original design for historical and architectural posterity. Part of the challenge has been dealing with the significant water damage the organ has been exposed to for many years. Fortunately, to my delight, the woodwork and pipes are cleaning up well…a testament to the quality materials the original Kilgen company was known for.
The organ itself originally consisted of about 30 ranks equaling about 2500 pipes. It has Choir, Solo and Great divisions, a Library division and a functional Geigen Principal facade above the fireplace. The blower to power all the organ’s functions and pipes is located in the basement and stands about 5′ high.
The Library division was designed to provide music to the upstairs library via wooden grates in the floor. There are also panels that open up to allow the library division to speak out into the ballroom to complement the organ’s main divisions. Interestingly, the Library division was connected to a roll player which allowed the library division to play unattended, automatically.
The organ should be playing before next Christmas. In consulting with professional performers regarding the fine nuances of this project, there has been a great deal of excitement brewing among those who are lining up to play this “King of Instruments”.
If you recognize John White’s name, he is the Executive Producer of a new film – being shot locally in 2013 – called “The Maury Island Incident.” To learn more about White, click here; to learn about the film, visit www.mauryislandincident.com or “Like” them on Facebook here.