Christ Episcopal Church
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Built by the Verney Organ Company, 1904
Built by the Verney Organ Company of Mason City in 1904, this organ was installed in the Methodist Episcopal Church of Parkersburg, Iowa in 1905 at an original cost of $2,500. The Verney Organ Company was founded in 1900 by William C. Verney, who incorporated the enterprise in 1904. Nothing is known of Mr. Verney’s background, although there may be a connection to the Hinners Organ Company of Pekin, Illinois, since surviving Verney organs have various construction characteristics similar to those of Hinners instruments. Verney patented a pneumatic windchest in 1908, although the extent to which it was used in organ building is unknown. Verney apparently closed the business in 1909, the last year it was listed in the Mason City city directory. He then worked for the Burlington Organ Company of Burlington, Iowa in 1910, and thereafter with a variety of Midwestern organ firms. This organ, with 19 ranks, is the largest known Verney instrument. Two other small Verney organs are extant, one in Wisconsin and another in Indiana.
The splendid casework and façade are original. The case, made of birch, is stained in imitation of cherry and is rather elaborate for the period. The stencilled façade, all but eight of whose pipes speak, is drawn from the Great Open Diapason 8' and Swell Violin Diapason 8'.
Incorporating mechanical key action for the manuals and tubular key action for the Pedal and offset windchests, the organ’s transitional design reflects 19th century concern for sturdy reliability with the developing 20th century emphasis on varied tonal effects and experimental mechanisms.
Through the years, various changes were made to the organ’s stoplist. In 1978, John Dulin removed the Great Dulciana, the Swell Fugara and Swell Oboe Gamba (a labial stop). Dulin installed a lingual Oboe 8' on the Dulciana toeboard, and Clarion 4' on the Fugara toeboard, and for reasons unknown moved the Aeoline to the Oboe Gamba toeboard. In the Dobson work, the non-original Oboe was removed from the Great, mitered, and placed on the Swell Oboe Gamba toeboard. A new Fugara was composed of older pipes, and a vintage Fifteenth 2' was placed on the Great Dulciana toeboard. Since the Dulciana was gone and the Great had a Nazard but no Fifteenth, it was decided to make this concession to improve hymn accompaniment at the expense of historical accuracy.
The Parkersburg congregation, faced with structural problems in their 1903 building, elected to construct a new church of smaller size that would not accommodate the Verney organ. It was sold to St. Michael’s Episcopal Church (renamed Christ Episcopal Church after a merger) in Cedar Rapids, and moved in 1993 by Dean Heim and John Panning of the Dobson firm with the assistance of many volunteers from both the Parkersburg and Cedar Rapids congregations.
Drawn from the rededication brochure of 1993,
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