Möller Opus 2022 Still Cared For in Newhall, California

100-year-old Organ under Loving Care of 85-year-old

Möller Opus 2022 began in 1915 in the Strand Theater in Meridian, Mississippi. Those of you who are not afficiandi of organ trivia might question this, but the first organs installed and played in theatres were not the unit organs we think of today as theatre organs. Lots of companies installed instruments in theatres, and then came Wurlitzer. Heavy use of unification accomplished many things that allowed the organ to become the must-have instrument in a fine theatre.

So, this organ is now in the care of an 85 year old amateur organ technician. He’s devoted, has an engineering background, has flexible thinking, and is good with his hands. Who will succeed him? Will the church suddenly begin a contract with an organ builder? Now, the point is that this is a “feel-good” story, and I would never take anything away from that. It’s my nature to think of the situation in a longer time frame, though. I’ve seen what happens when no professional maintenance is given over time. I’ve seen what happens when a volunteer for something is no longer available and suddenly there is an additional budget item. Probably, you have too.

Jerre Crosier, 85, steps around a shrub and opens a nondescript side door at the First Presbyterian Church of Newhall on Thursday. Inside is a 100-year-old motor pumping fresh air through a room full of tin tubing — 975 pipes, to be exact.

Crosier, who retired as an electronics engineer in 1962, squeezes past a wooden rack of pipes. This is his office, as it were — the place where he works making sure the church has its characteristic crisp organ sound every Sunday from its 100-year-old instrument.

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6 Responses to Möller Opus 2022 Still Cared For in Newhall, California

  1. What a nice, interesting story! Thanks for your always excellent posts.

    I too hope there is another volunteer or funds budgeted for a professional organ builder to carry on Mr. Crosier’s work. These instruments are irreplaceable treasures.

  2. Jim Parodi says:

    Thanks for this story. I am the fortunate organist who gets to play the Moller 2022 every Sunday. What a treat it is.
    To address your points, indeed Jerre does keep it running and yes he is 85. Yes I can tune it as needed but Jerre is the caretaker. Do not get me wrong, no offense is taken here, just want to clarify for you.
    I can also confirm that the organ is under professional care as needed. The church is not very financially sound so without Jerre would be possible though very difficult to keep it running. We do manage to get it tuned once a year as well as any repairs are addressed at that time.
    I just wish the church had the finances, the organ is currently controlled by a 1961 Reisner console, if that goes bad, we may not be able to repair it. I am an electronics tech and believe me after looking at the insides of the console, obsolete is not the word.
    I have approached the church with a estimate for adding a new console as well as keeping the pipes. The hybrid is not too terribly priced by either Allen or Rodgers. However it is beyond the church’s finances currently.
    I can keep hoping and in the meantime, I can truly enjoy it as it is a wonderful sound. I have been fortunate enough to have played big and small, pipe and electronic organs, in my 40 yrs of playing, it is an experience for sure.

  3. John Apple says:

    It is of interest to hear that an early Moller theatre organ exists. Is the specification still the same and the number of ranks when it was in the theatre? (It would appear to be about 16 ranks.)

    Here is a picture of the interior of the Strand Theatre, showing the 2 manual console.

    Strand photos are at saengeramusements.com/theatres/meridian/strand/mer_strand.htm There was a fire in 1949. The site is now occupied by a bank.

    John Edwin Windsor Lord (1862-1929), an English organist, was organist at First Baptist and taught at Meridian College from 1910 to 1918, as well as after his return from Walla Walla, WA later that year. You can read his biography on our catalog page of his composition:
    http://michaelsmusicservice.com/music/Lord.FantasiaOnMyOldKentuckyHome.html

    According to an entry in Theatre Organ Bombarde, Oct 1915: “J. E. LORD, concert and church organist, will preside at the new organ in the Strand Theatre in Meridian. Miss.”

    1918 International Who’s Who listed Lord at the Strand Theatre.

    Here is a listing of pieces that he played at the Strand in 1919.

    Lord had moved to Montgomery, Alabama by 1922.

    I hope this is interesting to you.

  4. Jim Parodi says:

    John,

    Thank you so much for this info. I do find it very interesting, esp about JE Lord.

    Due to an accident during shipment to the west coast, as well as space limitations, the organ was reduced to II/14, of course with some unification.

    As to the picture in the theater, I believe it is a picture of the newer Robert Morton organ which was installed in the mid to late 20’s. That is the reason the Moller was “available”. It was being replaced by the newer organ, best I can find, the Moller was to be either parted out or just removed. (BTW the Morton was later removed and added to the one in the Saenger.)

    I think you might be interested in the fact that through 2 rebuilds and replacement of the original console, the organ is still basically as originally installed in 1915. The wind chests as well as the main “motor” look to be original.

    I do have some pictures of the chambers and console if you are interested.

    Thanks
    Jim

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