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Opus 36

Gloucester Unitarian Universalist Church

Gloucester, MA


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Established in 1806 as the first Universalist church in the United States, this large New England meetinghouse was an important center for transcendentalists and abolitionists and is still an active hub of social justice. Boston organbuilder Thomas Appleton installed the first organ in 1826. George Hutchings replaced a later instrument by E. & G. Hook in 1893 when he was commissioned to build a two-manual and pedal instrument for the front of the sanctuary. By 1960 the Hutchings needed thorough renewal.

Charles Fisk understood that the church could not afford a new instrument. It was the only pipe organ of worth in the city at the time, and he agreed to restore and improve it. His new company still bore the name of Andover Organ Company, and as such the organ became his Opus 36.

A new console of cherry with electro-pneumatic stop action was installed, along with a new 32-note pedal board. Changes were made in the Swell division to provide a more adequate chorus, and the Great mixture was increased from three ranks of pipes to four. Many of the pipes were revoiced to produce a brighter, more lively tone. George Faxon played the dedication recital.

The church celebrated its bicentennial in 2006, the restored and revitalized Hutchings performing with all its stops.

Opus 36