As the New York Theatre Organ Society embarks on this extremely exciting project of restoring this historical Wonder Morton, I wanted to be very open and share our experiences and methods for doing this monumental project. Here is our first of many entires!
As we begin, below are just a few of the pictures inside the organ showing the current damage. The majority of the damage in the instrument is in the Right side of the organ, the Accompaniment side. As mentioned in our cover page for this project, we are going to leave this side alone as we restore the Left side first, the Solo side. Most of the loud stuff, percussion, and low stuff is on this side of the instrument. It's quite nearly an entire instrument in itself.
Some of the Solo side
The Left side of the instrument has some water damage and a section of the ceiling has collapsed onto the Relay. For a time while the organ was silent, the door of the Left chamber that led outdoors was letting in snow for who knows how long. The snow got on all of the equipment, wind regulators, wind trunks, and wiring on that side and soaked a good portion of the wood on the floor. A new chamber door has sense been installed on both sides of the instrument.
Our intention is to use the original relay to control the instrument. Because of the extensive water damage to the relay, however, we are going to use a temporary digital relay until the original one is fully restored. Our goal is to get the instrument playing as soon as possible, piece by piece, with the final goal of getting it to its original state as it came out of the factory.
This instrument's historical significance in the music and pipe organ world is the reason we're doing so much documentation and the cost of this restoration is higher. I am so honored to have Grant Chapman working on this project with me. Grant is the curator of the West Point organs, including the largest church organ in the world. He has been restoring theatre and church organs professionally for many years and has taught me so much. I’m truly honored that he has agreed to come on as the Wonder Morton technical curator. His joining assures myself, the theatre, and all organ enthusiasts that this project will be done right and with the upmost attention to detail.
The largest amount of damage to the instrument happened here (above). Water poured through this section of the organ, soaking the chests. Surprisingly, the pipes are in fairly good condition. Not too much, if any, corrosion has been found on the reeds. On the left is the Clarinet, the right is the Oboe Horn. The Clarinet has since been re-racked.
Just underneigth the Clarinet is this really sad Violin rank. This chest might be beyond saving, but the pipework can be saved. Wish us luck on this one!
As we finish documenting the state of the instrument over the next few weeks, the most important thing now is to raise the funds. More to come!