For its entire 100 years Rose City Park Church has had a pipe organ. Located in “The Little Brown Church”, it’s first pipe organ contained approximately 600 pipes. Little is known about the builder of the organ. When our present sanctuary was constructed in 1925 the Guenther Organ Company of Portland was selected to build a three-manual (keyboard) organ of 28 ranks (each rank usually contains 61 pipes) voiced in a manner typical of the time, and many of the pipes were “recycled” from older pipe organs. The Guenther pipe organ served the church until 1966, when the sanctuary was remodeled. At that time, an all new, custom designed three-manual pipe organ of 37 ranks, built by the Wicks Organ Company of Highland, Illinois, was installed. This, the third pipe organ for our church, has remained the core of our present organ today, although additional ranks of pipes have been installed over the years.
The pipe organ is played from a console, which contains the manuals (keyboards), pedals and stop controls – actually a control center. Over the years, the Wicks console began to age, and reliability became a factor. In 2006, a new three-manual console, built by the Rodgers Instruments Corp. of Hillsboro, was selected to replace the aging Wicks console. The new console was digital in technology, and provided the added resource of MIDI, a digital interface allowing the organ to access the voices and sounds of digital keyboards and sound modules, bringing the organ “into the 21st century.”
Through a very generous gift, a new custom designed four-manual console, also built by the Rodgers firm, was added in 2013, in conjunction with the church’s 100th anniversary. This represents the firm’s latest technological advances, and provides us with many additional sound resources, as well as the flexibility of a fourth keyboard. On its inaugural Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013, it received four ovations of applause!
We are very proud of our pipe organ, which now contains almost 3,000 pipes. It is indeed a grand instrument, capable of lifting the soul to soaring heights, as well as being able to accompany the most quiet prayer. Mozart probably stated it best, “To my eyes and ears the organ will ever be the King of Instruments.”