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2012 August 3
by Linda

George Stevens grew up in Norway, Maine. His organ studio was in Cambridge, Mass., where this instrument was made. It was originally installed in the gallery, from which the choir also sang. At that time a curved ceiling was extended up into the tower to accommodate the organ. The organ was not universally welcomed, and became a symbol of multiple causes of dissent during a low period in the congregation’s history. Congregational singing was ably led by Nathaniel Rideout (and his violin) for many years before the church had an organ, and his own grand-daughter Ruth Rideout Wills carried on the family musical tradition and was the church’s organist for many years. During the Victorian-style renovation of the sanctuary in the 1890’s, a gallery was built for the organ at the front of the church, and the organ moved there. Pumped by the hands of many men and boys into the 1970’s, the bellows now operate by means of an electric motor, but may still be pumped by hand, if necessary. The organ had a partial pedalboard until about 2000, at which time organ restorer David Wallace installed a full pedalboard taken from another George Stevens instrument.

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