Robeson County group restores old Flora MacDonald organ

RED SPRINGS, NC (WBTW)  The auditorium at Flora MacDonald in Red Springs has a new musical voice!  For many years the beautiful organ that was once there had lain silent.

The original tracker pipe organ was installed in the Flora MacDonald College auditorium in the early 1900’s, soon after the building was completed.  This instrument, which included the lovely facade that is still on stage today, was built by Mr. John Brown.  John was an English pipe organ builder who settled in Wilmington, Delaware, and who installed many pipe organs in the Southern states.

In the 1940’s this instrument was was altered by the M. P. Moller Pipe Organ Co. of Hagerstown, MD, and this included replacing the original organ console.  After the college closed in 1961, the campus was abandoned for 3 years and the organ fell into serious disrepair, due to weather and vandalism.

In 1963-64, when Vardell Hall was renovating the facilities, it was determined that the organ was beyond repair.  At this time the internal works were discarded and only the pipe facade was kept.  An electronic Baldwin console was installed, which lasted until 1986.  Since 1986, the auditorium has had no musical voice.

When concert organist Dr. Mark Andersen moved back to Lumberton, he remembered playing the organ as a youth, and offered to make a gift to have the organ rebuilt, so that it would once again sing forth with a beautiful voice.  The electronic console was little more than junk at this point, so a Moller Pipe Organ console was located, and completely rebuilt with the system that was designed by Dr. Andersen.  This new console had been part of the original

Moller Opus # 7987, which was built for the Newton, NJ Presbyterian Church in 1950.  Due to the gift and work done by Mark and Lynn Andersen, along with Alexander Watson, the instrument now sings again with a voice as beautiful as the original turn of the century pipe organ.  Dr. Andersen played it for the first time in this year’s graduation ceremony on Friday, May 19, and plans to use it for upcoming television programs filmed in the auditorium.

The work done and gift given by the Andersen’s is in honor of Alexander Watson, whose great love and care of the Flora MacDonald facility keeps it beautiful and available as a lovely performance space in our area.

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