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What is Opus 327?

Opus 327 is a historic, mechanically intact, restored-to-original condition pipe organ built by the Skinner Organ Company of Boston, MA. 


When was Opus 327 built?

Opus 327’s contract was signed on January 4, 1921. The instrument arrived piecemeal (Blower on Dec. 9 1921, the first railcar of parts on April 7 1922). It was dedicated on October 15, 1922 at the Sunday morning service. 


Why do some sources say 1921 instead of 1922?

Many sources and historians catalog instruments by the year of their contract signing rather than the year of completion. 


How big is Opus 327?

The organ comprises 56 speaking stops, 65 Ranks, and 4360 pipes across four manuals (keyboards) and pedal. The A. Thompson-Allen Co. once compared it to being the size of a three-story house!


What makes Opus 327 so special?

Opus 327 is one of few restored-to-original, mechanically intact instruments built by the renowned Skinner Organ Company. Opus 327 still lives in and plays a prominent role in the weekly worship of its original site, St. Luke’s Church. Now at 100 years of age, this organ is a rare example of E.M. Skinner’s work, untouched and unsullied by the changing tastes and opinions of the past century. 


Who was Ernest Martin Skinner (1866-1960)?

E.M. Skinner was, and still is, perhaps the most famous American organ builder of all time. Through their various iterations and owners, Skinner’s organ-building companies produced instruments for the most notable churches and institutions of the day. 

    St. John the Divine, NYC (1907/1951)

    St. Thomas’ Church, NYC (1913/1955)

    First Church of Christ Scientist, Evanston IL (1913)

    Fourth Presbyterian Church, Chicago IL (1913)

    Cleveland Auditorium, OH (1921) Opus 328*

    Woolsey Hall, Yale University, CT (1928)

Was Opus 327 ever altered or restored?

Yes, during Thomas Matthews’ tenure as Organist/Choirmaster (1946-1960) and onward several small changes were made to the organ, including the addition of a second Great Mixture and the Fanfare Trumpet. From 1993-1998, a staged restoration by the A. Thompson-Allen Company occurred under Richard Webster’s leadership. The organ was extensively cleaned, repaired, and returned to its original state with the exception of keeping the added mixture and fanfare trumpet. 


How much did Opus 327 cost? How much is it worth?

As a historic cultural treasure, Opus 327 is truly priceless. In its time, St. Luke’s paid $47,500 including a cash discount (and without the chimes and casework), because the vestry would “refuse to have the cost of the organ exceed $49,999.99”. Today, brand-new pipe organs of equivalent size from a premier builder often cost well over a million dollars. 


What else makes Opus 327 so important?

Opus 327 has been a part of the worshipping community at St. Luke’s for nearly the entire history of its present building. Numerous organists of note have worked, performed, and studied at St. Luke’s and countless musicians and parishioners have been shaped by the sounds of Opus 327. Despite the decline of organ departments at universities and conservatories nationwide, we are still able to provide educational offerings through our organ scholar program, lessons, concerts, and masterclasses.    

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