200 Main Street
Edgartown, Massachusetts, 02539

Courtesy of Andover Organ Company; © Andover Organ Company

Simmons & Fisher, Boston, Massachusetts, 1856
Installed 1869
Altered by Ross Abel, 1940's
Altered by Ross Abel, 1968
Restored by Andover Organ Company
Methuen, Massachusetts, 2002-2003 (Winter)

Two manuals and pedal
Slider chests, Mechanical Key Action
3 divisions, 18 stops

Organ Specifications


8' Open Diapason
8' Open Diapason Bass
8' Dulciana
8' Clarabella
8' Stopped Diapason
8' Stopped Diapason Bass
4' Waldflute
4' Principal
2 2/3' Nassard
2' Fifteenth
8' Trumpet
8' Trumpet Bass


16' Sub Bass


8' Open Diapason
8' Stopped Diapason
8' Stopped Diapason Bass
8' Viol de Gamba
4' Flute
4' Principal
4' Principal Bass
2' Fifteenth
2' Fifteenth Bass
8' Oboe
Cornett Twelfth


Swell to Great 8'
Swell to Pedal 8'
Great to Pedal 8'

The Old Whaling Church, which was originally the United Methodist Church of Edgartown, is now owned by the Martha's Vineyard Preservation Trust. It contains a two-manual organ built by Simmons and Fisher in 1856-7. The organ was completely restored in 2003-4 by the Andover Organ Company. The restoration was necessary for two reasons. First, there were unfortunate alterations, chiefly tonal, made in the 1960's, and second, the organ suffered mechanically over the years from overheating.

The manual keyboards were renovated and rebushed. A rebuilt 27-note flat pedalboard was installed in place of the original 26-note pedalboard, and the Pedal couplers were expanded to 27 notes. The hitch-down Swell mechanism was restored. The Great combination action was restored to the organ and piano and forte pedals were provided. A new quiet 3/4 hp blower was installed in a box, and the reservoir was releathered, including the feeders so that the organ can be hand pumped. The Pedal chests were retabled and expanded to 27 notes. The action was renewed throughout. Seven pipes were added to the existing Double Open Diapason. The Manual chests were retabled and renovated, and the pallets made removable. The pipes were cleaned and repaired and slide tuners were fitted to prevent damage in the future. The entire organ was tuned to the original pitch.

Excerpts from the article: Mighty Wind: Church Organ Gets a Tuneup Every 150 Years from The Vineyard Gazette.

Years of minor repairs on the intricate moving parts of the Fisher Simmons, as it is known to organ enthusiasts, left a wish list of restorations that would befit an entire building: Install new pull-down wires, rebush swell shades, renut pedal key action, provide new windtrunk from blower. But the pièce de resistance: Tune the entire organ to original pitch.

Now, "we want to return the organ to its original pitch so trumpets and other instruments can tune to it again," says Mr. Newton.

As Mr. Newton directs a small core of assistants reshaping pewter pipes, he acknowledges that "we're bending history to make the pedals more versatile. In a restoration, the tone moves inevitably in the direction of what I like. But at the same time I keep very close to what Simmons did."

Back in the mid-19th century, American church organists mimicked England's. Hymns and wedding marches were in; Romantic and Baroque repertoire, often more complex and requiring more keys, was shunned.

English pieces were written for hands alone." He notes that the Fisher Simmons organ had 18 pedal keys, and will soon be outfitted with 27. "Organists at the Whaling Church will now be able to play almost all the works of Bach," he says.

In the late 1990s, Gary Zwicky and Philip Dietterich banded together with the Organ Historical Society in Boston and began a series of noontime fundraiser concerts. With a $5 ticket price, the net result of the concerts was really to raise consciousness, more than dollars. It worked. The music series stirred the imagination of an opera singer named Lia Kahler. Ms. Kahler's mother, Peg Littlefield, had died in 2000 and the singer and sometime philanthropist was searching for a way to pay her tribute. Ms. Kahler ultimately set up a $20,000 endowment for the pipe organ and cut the Preservation Trust a check to get the instrument on Andover's three-year waiting list. Owen Larkin, president of the Vineyard Golf Club heard from a choir singer about the withering organ and set up a $30,000 matching grant with the Preservation Trust, which, over two years, successfully met it.

The organ arrived back for reassembly on April 12, 2004.

An Organ Gala took place in November 2004 featuring organists Richard Hill and Barbara Owen.

Courtesy of The Vineyard Gazette; © The Vineyard Gazette Courtesy of The Vineyard Gazette; © The Vineyard Gazette Courtesy of The Vineyard Gazette; © The Vineyard Gazette Courtesy of The Vineyard Gazette; © The Vineyard Gazette

Source: Andover Organ Company, Methuen, Massachusetts
           The Martha's Vineyard Gazette, Edgartown, Massachusetts
           Organ Historical Society, Richmond, Virginia
           The Organs of the United States and Canada Database (OSUCDB)