Pipe Organs at First Church
The church’s first pipe organ was a two-manual Hook and Hastings instrument 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 building designed by Irving Gill and located at 9th and C streets, the Hook and Hastings instrument was enlarged by Murray Harris and installed in the 1500-seat auditorium.
In 1929, First Church dedicated a new 27-rank, three-manual Pilcher organ which included 1,877 pipes with harp and chimes. When the church moved to Mission Valley in 1964, the Pilcher organ was placed in storage.
In 1967, Dowling and Blackinton Organ Builders designed and installed a 12-rank, 855-pipe, instrument in the chancel. Four years later the former downtown organ was removed from storage, 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.
Throughout the decade from 1975 to 1985, then-organist/composer in residence Daniel Burton led a movement to provide the church with an instrument worthy of the architecture of the sanctuary and in keeping with the church’s history of supporting great music. In 1985 a committee headed by Jerry Ryan began to implement this vision, and in 1986 a contract was signed with L. W. Blackinton & Associates to redesign and expand the instrument, provide slider chests throughout, a four-manual console and 54 new ranks. The completed instrument was dedicated on January 22, 1989, with a total of 107 ranks and 6,042 pipes.
In 2010 an 8' Festival Trumpet was added, bringing the organ to 108 ranks and 6092 pipes in nine divisions. The specification includes three 32’ ranks, of which the Principal and the Bombarde are full length. The organ stands as San Diego County’s largest.
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 (retired) 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