The Futch Memorial Organ

Not so humble origins…

First Presbyterian Church’s historic organ was manufactured for and installed in the church in 1896 by the Boston firm Hook and Hastings. Hook and Hastings was the leading organ builder of the 19th century, building more than 2500 organs across the United States before the firm ceased operations in 1936. Funding for the organ was provided from a gift for that purpose of $7,000.00 from Mrs. George Ball. Only nine Hook and Hastings organs were installed in Texas prior to First’s, most of which no longer exist. First Presbyterian is the oldest Hook and Hastings organ in Texas still in the space for which it was originally designed.

As originally built, the organ had a tracker (mechanical) action, pallet, and slider wind chests operated by a water motor. The organ originally contained 30 ranks of pipes across three manuals in four divisions.

16 Open Diapason
8 Open Diapason
8 Gamba
8 Doppel Flute
4 Octave
2 2/3 Twelfth
2 Fifteenth
III Mixture
​8 Trumpet

16 Bourdon
8 Open Diapason
8 Stopped Diapason
8 Salicional
4 Flute
4 Violina
2 Flautino
8 Cornopean
8 Oboe
8 Vox Humana
8 Geigen
8 Melodia
8 Dulciana
4 Flute
2 Piccolo
​8 Clarinet

16 Open Diapason (wood)
16 Bourdon
​8 Cello

Several modifications to the instrument were made over the next century, not all sympathetic. The water motor was soon replaced by an electric blower. In 1956, the tracker action was replaced by an electro-pneumatic action and the organ was reconditioned by Wicks Organ Company representatives from Dallas. The original console was discarded at this time.

In 1977, Roy Redman was retained to rebuild the now-deteriorating organ, whereupon it was removed in its entirety to Redman’s shop in Fort Worth. The organ was re-trackerized and the number of ranks was expanded to 57. The last major change to the organ was in the 1990’s when it was converted to an electric action. Despite all these changes, the original pipes, case, and pipe decorations remained.

Hurricane Ike pushed three feet of storm surge into the sanctuary on September 13, 2008, seriously damaging the console as well as the organ’s electrical and winding mechanisms. The organ sat in a damp environment for a month until remediation efforts began in earnest. It remained in an environment that lacked any climate control until air conditioning was restored in early 2011. During that time and for a few months thereafter, work inside the sanctuary proceeded with the attendant production of vibration and dust, enveloping the organ’s remaining working mechanisms and infiltrating the pipes. Unfortunately, due to prioritization of work, the church’s available resources were directed to restoring the sanctuary, offices, and Sunday school classrooms – restoration of the organ had to wait…

The Current Organ

Following Hurricane Ike, the organ sat unrestored and deteriorating for several years while the building and main sanctuary were restored. Once the building was restored a committee was formed and interviewed several national and international builders to decide on a builder to restore the organ. After a lengthy search process, the firm A. E. Schlueter of Georgia was chosen to restore the organ. Schlueter evaluated the history of the organ and the desires of the church music program to restore and design our existing instrument. After lengthy studies and discussions with our musicians and the committee it was decided to redesign the case layout, preserving the original facade, to enlarge the organ and make it more serviceable. It was further decided that the organ should be electrified with slider chests instead of a tracker action to allow for more flexibility in playing while still allowing for proper speech in the historic Hook and Hastings pipework.

Once the design was finalized, our current organ was funded in part by donations from our congregants, and by a large donation from the Dr. Edward and Sally M. Futch Charitable Foundation. With the largest single donation coming from the Dr. Edward and Sally M. Futch Charitable Foundation the organ was dedicated as the Futch Memorial Organ, making use of all of the historic pipework of the original Hook and Hastings organ and new pipework being integrated together. As part of the restoration a new console was built and is dedicated to Estelle M. Greenwalt.

Following all of this work, the restored organ came out to be 54 ranks, and some 3,000 plus pipes as can be seen below:

16′ Double Open Diapason
16′ Lieblich Gedeckt (SW)
8′ First Open Diapason
8′ Second Open Diapason
8′ Gamba
8′ Doppel Flute
8′ Bourdon (TC)
4′ Octave
4′ Doppel Flute
2′ Fifteenth
IV Fourniture 1⅓
16′ Contra Trumpet (SW)
8′ Cornopean (SW)
8′ Oboe (SW)
8′ Clarinet (CH)
8′ Tromba Heroic
Great to Great 16-UO-4

16′ Lieblich Gedeckt
8′ Geigen Diapason
8′ Stopped Diapason
8′ Salicional
8′ Voix Celeste (TC)
III Muted Strings 8
4′ Geigen Octave
4′ Fern Flute
2⅔’ Nazard (TC)
2′ Flageolet
1⅗’ Tierce (TC)
III Plein Jeu 2
16′ Contra Trumpet
8′ Cornopean
8′ Oboe
8′ Vox Humana
4′ Clarion
8′ Tromba Heroic
Swell to Swell 16-UO-4

16′ Contra Dulciana
8′ English Diapason
8′ Concert Flute
8′ Dulciana
8′ Unda Maris (TC)
4′ Principal
4′ Traverse Flute
II Unda Maris 4
2⅔’ Nasat (TC)
2′ Flautino
1⅗’ Terz (TC)
1⅓’ Quint
II Actua ⅔
16′ Bass Clarinet (TC)
8′ Clarinet
16′ Tromba Heroic (SW)
8′ Tromba Heroic (SW)
4′ Tromba Heroic (SW)
Choir to Choir 16-UO-4

32′ Violone
32′ Bourdon
16′ Double Open Diapason
16′ Open Wood
16′ Contra Dulciana (CH)
16′ Subbass
16′ Lieblich Gedekt (SW)
8′ Octave
8′ Diapason
8′ Subbass
8′ Stopped Diapason (SW)
4′ Choral Bass
4′ Doppel Flute (GT)
4′ Lieblich Flute (SW)
III Mixture 2⅔
32′ Contra Trombone
32′ Harmonics
16′ Trombone
16′ Contra Trumpet
8′ Cornopean (SW)
8′ Oboe (SW)
4′ Clarion (SW)
4′ Clarinet (CH)
8′ Tromba Heroic (SW)
Great to Pedal 8-4
Swell to Pedal 8-4
Choir to Pedal 8-4
Swell to Great 16-8-4
Choir to Great 16-8-4
Swell to Choir 16-8-4
Choir/Great Transfer

Want to see or hear the organ?

The Futch Memorial Organ can be heard year-round in services and at special concerts during the year as part of the Arts and Ideas series. Additionally during the summer months, the organ is demonstrated following worship in mini-recitals to showcase the capabilities of the organ. Pipe chamber walk-through tours are scheduled by appointment only with the Music Office by emailing the Director of Music Ministries.

Want to play the Futch Memorial Organ?

We believe in an open console policy. We gladly welcome guest and visiting organists to our console following services or through the week during operating hours. If you would like to come play the organ, please arrange this with the Director of Music Ministries. Standing console practice hours are also possible as available. If you know you will be visiting the island and would like to stop in and may not be available during our standard business hours, please email as a showing may still be possible. Under no circumstances may individuals come and play the instrument without prior approval. We welcome you to play, but we ask that we know you are coming so we can walk you through the start-up process and can ensure that it is not in conflict with church events or slated times for others.