Planning for a new organ at St. Andrew's

Creating a lasting gift of music for future generations!

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Project Update: December 2021

We are so pleased that we are able to use a portion of our new organ in worship throughout the Christmas season! After 17 years of research, planning and fundraising by members of the Organ Committee, our new instrument has been built over the last couple of years by Richards, Fowkes and Co. of Ooltewah, Tennessee.

The case and pipes arrived on All Saints’ Day of this year, and we currently have about 20% of it functioning. The organ builders will resume their work on installing and tonal finishing the organ after the Christmas holiday. We anticipate the organ will be fully finished and making an even more joyful noise by Easter Sunday.

Project Update: November 2021

The new organ arrived at the church on November 1, 2021. Since then, the organ builder has been hard at work assembling the instrument. After two weeks of work, much of the instrument's case has been put together. Work on the interior and tuning of the instrument will continue in the weeks and months to come.

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Project Update: Spring 2021

During the time when we were not able to be in the church building, the renovation and acoustical enhancement of the church have been nearly completed, and the result has been on display in our Sunday morning video services.

Throughout the pandemic the organ builder in Tennessee continues to work. The organ case and pipes are nearing completion; the keyboards are in; most components are ready. Like many businesses they have had to adapt to working under Covid restrictions, and their supply chain for the few items they do not manufacture themselves has been disrupted. These disruptions are being slowly resolved.

At this point the installers still do not feel safe traveling. As soon as we know more an announcement will be made to the parish. As eager as we are to see and hear the new instrument, the organ builder is equally eager to get it to us. We appreciate your patience and continued support.

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Chancel Construction: 2020

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Spring / Summer 2020

Pre-construction preparations begin!

In anticipation of construction to prepare for the installation of our new Richards, Fowkes & Co. Organ organ the Rueter organ was decomissioned and removed from the church in the spring after 49 years of service. The windows on the northeast side of the chancel were sent out for restoration and the pews were covered with protective sheeting. Grunwell-Cashero, an experienced historical renovation contractor, has been hired for this project.

Week One: September 28 - October 4, 2020

Construction on the chancel has begun in preparation for our new Richards, Fowkes & Co. Organ!

The choir desks have been removed for storage until construction is complete. The decorative wood panels along the sides of the chancel have been removed for acoustical remediation before being re-installed. The knee walls from the 1995 renovation surrounding the chancel are removed.

Week Two: October 5 - 11, 2020

Week Two sees scaffolding erected in preparation for acoustic stiffening of the walls.

The chancel ceiling panels will be cleaned and relighted to highlight the early 20th century stenciling.


  • Scaffolding is erected
  • Original Ceiling is revealed

Week Three: October 12 - 18, 2020

Dust, dust, and more dust!

As the existing plaster is torn away from the sacristy door-well, workers removing the current layer of plaster revealed the original east wall of the church that has allowed us another glimpse into previous chancel decorations before the expansion of the chancel in 1938. The original wall stenciling was believed to have been destroyed during the 1938 renovations (when we were installing a different organ!).


  • Wall stenciling is uncovered
  • Wall stenciling is uncovered

Week Four: October 19 - 25, 2020

Filling in the gaps.

Windows and interior openings into the organ chamber are getting filled. The window openings on the north wall are being enclosed as our new organ will be placed within a foot of the wall. Painted windows, previously in the nave, are being restored and reinstalled on the exterior in those spaces. A new door from the chancel into the organ chamber is being added. The sunken platform of the Rueter organ console is prepared to be brought to level.


  • Grunwell-Cashero, an experienced historical renovation contractor, has been hired for this project.

Week Five: October 26 - November 1, 2020

Blocked in!

This week we continue to close off spaces between the organ chamber and chancel. A new door into the chamber is prepared along the wall to the north of where the choir is located. The space for the new instrument is prepared for upcoming use.

Week Six: November 2 - 8, 2020

Work continues on the north side of the sanctuary to prepare that area of the floor for the weight of the organ. On the south side, the existing steps and tile has been removed in preparation for the installation of a new ramp leading into Page Hall.

About The Organ Project

About the New Organ

In building a new organ, consideration must be given not only to the auditory experience but also the visual appearance of the instrument.

Diagram of location for new organ

In its appearance the organ will be built to be consonant with the architectural themes that otherwise define the sanctuary. Our organ builders, Richards, Fowkes & Co., have an established track record for building beautiful organs.

Examples of their work can be viewed HERE.

Diagram of location for new organ

Our new organ will be installed in the first bay along the north wall of the church. It is the place where the church's first organ once sat. The pipes will be located within the body of the sanctuary, but they will not obscure the arch that defines the chancel. The new organ will be sized to fit within the space currently defined by the altar rail.

Before and after of stained glass windows

The two stained glass windows (the Bishop Brent (N1) and Venerable Bede (N2) windows) that adorn the first north bay have been removed, restored, and reinstalled at the back of the nave in place of the painted windows in bays N11 and N12.

Before and after of stained glass windows

The N1 and N2 window openings on the north wall have been enclosed, as our new organ's placement is within a foot of the exterior wall. The Painted Windows, previously in the N11 and N12 spaces, are being restored and will then be reinstalled on the exterior in the N1 and N2 spaces.

Renovated chancel

The choir will remain in its current position, at the front of the church. We will use this occasion to install acoustic remediation in the chancel, making the choir more audible to the congregation. This remediation will not entail any visible alteration to the front of the church.

Frequently Asked Questions

In building a new organ, consideration must be given not only to the auditory experience but also the visual appearance of the instrument.

Our new organ will be a tracker (or mechanical action) organ. In a tracker organ there is a physical connection between the keys and the pipes. This long lasting technology does not depend on electrical or mass-produced components and can last for hundreds of years.

LEARN MORE about tracker organs [PDF]
LEARN how a tracker organ is made [PDF]

Due to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, construction and installation of the organ has been delayed. Once construction of the instrument begins it will take 14-18 months to build. Installation of the instrument should start in 2021.

Designs have not yet been drawn. The plan is that the organ will be installed in the first bay along the north wall of the church (where the bell choir currently plays). The wheelchair ramp will be moved to the south side of the chancel.

In November 2015 the Vestry authorized the signing of a contract with Richards, Fowkes & Co. of Ooltewah, Tennessee.

Richards & Fowkes have made several visits to St. Andrew's to learn about our sanctuary and parish. We are confident that they will build an instrument that will serve St. Andrew's well into the future.

LEARN why Richards, Fowkes & Co. is right for St. Andrew's [PDF]
VIEW Richards, Fowkes & Co.'s overview of our organ

We invite you to contribute to the building of this beautiful new instrument and we would welcome the opportunity to meet with you in person to answer any questions that you may have before you pledge. Pledges can be paid at once, or they can be paid in increments over a period of up to four years. The pledge form can be downloaded HERE. Once you have filled it in, please mail it to the church office:

St. Andrew's Episcopal Church
306 N. Division St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Budget and Financial Information

The estimated cost to build and install the new organ adds up to $1,875,180.

The budget is broken down as follows:

Instrument cost $1,281,688
Installation cost $35,000
Contingency of 3% $39,501
Budget for Richard and Fowkes $1,356,189
Site preparation and acoustics $389,991
Est. administration and fund raising $129,000
Project total $1,875,180

We thank you for your support of the music and ministry of St. Andrew's.