Cook Grand Theater
Indiana Landmarks Center
Indianapolis, IN
2010–33 ranks

Download PDF

photo copyright: Indiana Landmarks

Renovation of Thomas Sanborn organ, 1892

Thomas Prentice Sanborn was an Indianapolis organbuilder who worked at the larger William H. Clarke & Co. until venturing out on his own. He built the organ for Central Avenue Methodist Church in 1892, and thirty years later the original slider chests were electrified by Seeburg-Smith and Co. of Chicago. After a century of modifications, cracks, and repairs, the mechanics had seen the end of their reliable life by the time the church was purchased by Indiana Landmarks.

Goulding & Wood Pipe Organ Builders of Indianapolis was chosen to renovate the organ for what was now called Cook Grand Hall. Craftsmen from Goulding & Wood removed the organ for restoration in February, 2010, wearing winter coats and armed with flashlights; the building no longer had heat or working lights, and the roof was collapsing. Over the next year, every pipe was washed, given new tuning sleeves, and regulated to restore its correct voicing. A new 16’ Trombone is the only tonal addition to the organ.

The pipes sit on new electro-pneumatic slider and pallet windchests built by Goulding & Wood, restoring the organ to pneumatic pallet action with modern solid-state switching and console systems. The chests sit on new structure and winding, including a new swell enclosure. The original console was lost long ago, so a new console of quarter-sawn white oak was built to match the façade cabinetry and mimics similar organs from the turn of the century. A harp (pitched metal bars struck by pneumatic mallets) had been added to the organ in the 1920’s, and was restored by fellow Indianapolis organ builder Carlton Smith Organ Restorations.

After stripping many layers of paint from the façade pipes, shadows of the original etching and stenciling remained. Conrad Schmitt Studios of Milwaukee,
WI, re-stenciled the pipes and added gold-leaf. Goulding & Wood restored all of the original casework and built matching wings to extend the case on either side.

The organ is now ready to make music with the community for years to come. Concerts, recitals, and weddings all make use of the organ, which serves as a unique and colorful voice from 1892. As another chapter of Indianapolis organ building continues, the restored instrument at Indiana Landmarks Cook Grand Hall will continue to provide inspiration for generations.

Construction and Installation photos

Indiana Landmarks Center

16'     Teneroon
8'       Diapason
8'       Melodia
8'       Doppel Flute
8'       Gamba
8'       Dulciana
4'       Octave
4'       Concert Flute
2 '   Octave Quint
2'       Super Octave
1 '    Mixture III
8'       Trumpet
8'       Clarinet
16’     Bourdon Bass
16'     Bourdon Treble
8'       Violin Diapason
8'       Unison Bass
8’       Gedeckt Treble
8’       Salicional
8'       Celeste (from Aeoline)
4'       Principal
4'       Flute
4'       Violina
2'       Flageolet
2’       Mixture III
8'       Basson
8'       Oboe
8'       Vox humana
      Swell Super
16’     Diapason
16'     Bourdon
8'       Cello
16'     Trombone (new)

Great to Pedal
Great to Pedal Super
Swell to Pedal
Swell to Great

WFYI--TV produced a one-hour documentary on the restoration of the Old Centrum Methodist Church into the current Indiana Landmarks Center. Click here to see extra footage of the organ building portion of the project, including a video tour of our shop.