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Historic organ in Bangor gains international attention

The E. & G. G. Hook Opus 288 was built in 1860 and is in nearly perfect condition.

BANGOR, Maine — A historic instrument in Bangor is at the center of a project that is gaining international attention. 

Organ experts have just wrapped up their examination of an 1860 E. & G. G. Hook Opus 288 pipe organ at St. John’s Catholic Church. 

The experts weighed, measured, and photographed every piece of the instrument to understand how it's built and works. The information collected will be able to help others in the restoration of similar organs from the same time period. 

“There are no shop records from the Hook brothers, because those were destroyed in a fire," Kevin Birch, executive director of the church's organ society, said. "The instruments themselves are the surviving documents. It is also an important reference point for modern organ builders who wish to build beautiful instruments."

Credit: Nick Wallace
Credit: NCM
Credit: NCM

Organ builders Nami Hamada of Massachusetts and Nicholas Wallace of Gorham spent a week documenting the historic piece. 

“It was a fascinating chance to just spend time with that organ and go through the pipe work in a methodical way," Wallace said. 

He and Hamada plan to have the final products of the documentation process ready by October, Wallace said.

"From my contacts and Nami's contacts, the announcements that we have made about the documentation happening has had worldwide reach," he said. "There are organ builders in Europe who are paying attention and organists across the U.S. have reached out to say that they look forward to seeing what this documentation process brings. The company that built this organ was very influential and it's something of great interest to organists, organ builders, and historians."

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