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The first organ to be installed in Trinity Church’s present building was built by E. & G. G. Hook, one of the most highly regarded nineteenth-century U. S. organ builders. The 2-manual instrument, that company’s Opus 1921, was installed in 1856.
In 1946, when the Rev. John Esquirol was the Rector, the Hook organ was replaced by one built by the large firm M. P. Möller, of Hagerstown, Maryland. According to Trinity lore, this electro-pneumatic instrument was the first to be built by Möller after that company’s World War II hiatus from organ building, during which time their factory and craftsmen devoted their energies to constructing caskets for the war dead. This organ, Möller’s Opus 7127, had three manuals and 24 ranks of pipes, roughly half of which were in the rear of the church, with the remainder located in chambers on the two sides of the chancel. In 1962 additional stops were added to the chancel ranks.
In 1970 when the Rev. Francis Cheney was the Rector, Frederic DeHaven, the church organist, traveled to Europe twice on organ-evaluation tours, mostly in Switzerland. Following that a group of parishioners who were intensely interested in the music at Trinity, including Rev. Cheney and Frederic DeHaven, and on one occasion including Dr. James Litton, made a trip to Canada and the US to meet several organ builders and play their instruments. The result of this was the selection of a Swiss organ-builder, Karl Wilhelm, who had relocated to Canada, to build a new Baroque-style organ for Trinity. It was Karl Wilhelm's first three manual organ.
This new instrument of three manuals and 48 ranks was completed by Karl Wilhelm, Inc., its Opus 30, in 1972. The console was placed in a gallery (enlarged for this purpose) in the rear of the church. The action (as was the case in all organs of the Baroque period) is completely mechanical. This type of action, much favored by many organists, is also called “tracker action.” No electricity is used in the instrument, except to power the blower. The keys and stops control the admission of air to the pipes purely by the action of the organist’s hands and feet, which was the case in all organs of the 17th and 18th centuries. It was dedicated by the noted organist E. Power Biggs at a recital in October of that year, and in 1973 Dr. Litton returned to give a recital on it.
White oak was used for the case and the new gallery built for the organ. The finest organ builders use white oak as it is the most resonant, and the fibers are very tight. The woodwork was never stained as Mr. Wilhelm thought it ages so beautifully. Since we had to enlarge the organ loft, white oak was chosen for it for it as well; the gallery was designed by the late Roswell Barratt, an internationally known architect and a parishioner for many years.
In 1962 Trinity obtained a new Möller console, installed in the chancel, which controlled a second pipe organ of about a dozen ranks, the chancel division of the Möller described above. In 1999, a new console was installed during the Enhancement project instituted at that time, and was given by Charles Dodsley Walker in memory of his wife, Janet.