Pipe Organs at First Church
By Dr. Richard Peerson
From its founding, May 12, 1869, First Church has valued music in its worship services and community outreach.
The first pipe organ was a two-manual Hook and Hastings, which was dedicated on February 26, 1888, in the new Methodist Block three-story brick building located at the corner of 4th and Broadway in downtown San Diego.
When First Church moved in 1907 to a new church building, designed by Irving Gill and located at 9th and C streets, the Hook and Hastings pipe organ was enlarged by Murray Harris and installed in the 1500 seat auditorium.
In 1929, First Church dedicated a new 27 rank three manual Pilcher pipe organ with 1,946 speaking sounds: 1,877 pipes with harp and chimes.
The church moved to Mission Valley in 1964 and Mr. and Mrs. W. T. Myers, Jr., loaned the church their Baldwin 5A electronic organ for use in the sanctuary. The Pilcher organ was placed in storage. In 1967, Dowling and Blackinton Organ Builders designed and installed a 12 rank (855 pipes) Chancel Organ over the the choir stalls.
The former downtown pipe organ was removed from storage in 1971 and was refurbished and enlarged by L. W. Blackinton and Associates to 41 ranks with 2,450 pipes, chimes and harp and placed in the rear gallery of the church sanctuary.
On April 24, 1986, a contract was signed with Mr. Blackinton to remove the existing organ and completely redesign and expand the instrument using the former pipe work and adding 54 ranks of new pipes, slider chests, and a new four manual console. The instrument was dedicated on January 22, 1989 with a total of 107 ranks and 6,042 pipes.
In 2010 a Festival Trumpet 8' was added to the Gallery Choir division. The organ now contains 108 ranks and 6092 pipes over four manual and pedal divisions in the rear gallery, including a full-length pedal Principal 32', and three manual and pedal divisions in the chancel. It is the largest pipe organ in San Diego County.
The Trotter Chapel Pipe Organ
A two-manual, 14-rank, 849-pipe L. W. Blackinton and Associates Pipe Organ was installed in the Trotter Chapel and dedicated on September 12, 2010.
Tonal concepts and specifications for the organ were cooperatively developed by Organ Builder, Lyle Blackinton; Organist, Robert Plimpton and Music Director, Stanley Wicks. The challenge was to design an instrument of modest size to be used primarily for small services, weddings, and funerals, but in addition, would have the versatility to be used for other intimate musical events.
About the Trotter Chapel Pipe Organ