Pipe Dreams

Madison First Baptist Church’s
rare pipe organ to be restored

Members seek fundraising
to help with the project

By Konnie McCollum
Staff Writer

(May 2010) – More than 100 years ago in 1900, a small group of women decided their church needed an organ. They worked hard to raise $1,000 and, along with a $1,000 grant, were able to purchase a hand-crafted Felgemaker Tracker Pipe Organ. In 1901, that organ was carefully shipped from Pennsylvania and painstakingly installed in Madison, Ind.’s First Baptist Church.

Bill Hans

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Hellman of Nice Shots Photography

Madison First Baptist Church’s
organist Bill Hans has been playing the
Felgemaker Tracker organ for decades.

Today, the 700-pipes organ is one of four still remaining east of the Mississippi River, but it needs extensive maintenance, which is going to be costly. Madison First Baptist Church, 416 Vine St., has been working to raise the more than $85,000 that is needed to return the rare treasure as close to its original condition as possible. At this point, through auctions, dinners, and donations, the church has raised $35,000, according to church member Sara Minor. Her company, Minor Auctions, has helped with the efforts.
“We have planned luncheons, another auction in the fall, hymn sings and other events to raise the money we need,” said Minor. Recently, former community members Ray and Martha Thomas donated the proceeds from an auction of furniture they did not need to help with the fundraising. More than $678 was raised by their generosity, said Minor.
A Knoxville, Tenn.-based company, Bradley Rule and Co, plans to spend a week in Madison in May to carefully label and dismantle the organ to take back to its workshop. The track organ specialists will then spend up to six months tediously cleaning and restoring the organ, said church member Ken Goins, who has also been working on the project.

Pipe organ

“It is a very involved process that not many companies are able to do,” he said. “Much of the interior pipes still involve a wood action, while modern organs have switched to electronic components. We found that only a few companies are able to do the complicated restoration.”
The church is paying the restoration company in installments for the work on its precious organ. Members hope to raise all of the money by the time the company returns it to them.
“We welcome any and all contributions,” said Goins.

• To donate to the Organ Restoration Fund at Madison First Baptist Church, visit www.madisonfbc.org or send checks to Organ Restoration Fund, Madison First Baptist Church, 416 Vine St., Madison, IN, 47250.

Back to May 2010 Articles.



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