St. Thomas’ Kimball Opus 7133 Pipe Organ

January 29, 2018, Author: St. Thomas the Apostle Church

Opus 7133 was donated to St. Thomas by Mr. Ken Long in 2016. It was originally built for the Phipps mansion in Denver in 1933.

Kimball was one of the pre-eminent American organ builders in the first half of the 20th century. Known for their extremely high-quality construction and craftsmanship, and the ultra-refined and rich tone of their organs, “no American firm of the day made better pipes”[1]. Its larger sibling instrument, Kimball Op.7238, installed in the Episcopal Cathedral of St John in Denver in 1938, is recognized to this day as being one of the great North American cathedral organs.

After Senator Phipps’ death, Op. 7133 was moved to the Phipps Auditorium in Denver, and then, when that venue became and Imax theatre, to Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, TX, in 1986, where it was installed, and played for many years. When their organ program closed it was dismantled for storage by the Organ Clearing House in 2012.

All of the original Kimball pipework in Op. 7133 is unaltered; quite unique in the 21st century when many of these instruments were either altered beyond recognition or scrapped, due to changing tastes in organ style and sound. In many quarters, tastes have come full circle, and the rich, warm sound of these historic organs is in vogue again and is particularly suitable for accompanying music in the Anglican/Episcopal liturgical tradition.

Opus 7133 has 3 manuals and pedals, with 41 stops, 52 ranks and a total of 3,556 individual pipes (see separate stoplist). In addition to the Great, Swell, Choir and Pedal divisions, there is an Echo division playable from any keyboard. There is also an antiphonal horizontal trumpet stop, as well as percussion stops (harp and chimes).

The organ pipes and mechanism will be installed three chambers, or rooms, in the rear balcony and adjoining ceiling space above the narthex. The sound will speak into the church through sets of louvered doors. A new staircase has been built up to the balcony area and a sprinkler system is being installed (Phase 1).  Phase 2 will involve moving the organ pipes and mechanisms from the off-site storage facility into its future chambers. When funds permit, Phase 3 will involve updating the console and restoring the main divisions to playing condition.  Phase 4 would entail doing the same for the remaining divisions. These final two phases include extensive re-wiring, reconditioning of winding systems, and other mechanical and electrical work.

The attached photo is of the Kimball Opus 7133 pipe organ before restoration.

[1] The American Organist, article by Jonathan Ambrosino, July 17