Holtkamp Organ Company
JOB 2106 - Hungars Episcopal Church, Bridgetown VA

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Hungars Episcopal Church organ, front
Hungars Episcopal Church organ, angled view
Hungars Episcopal Church organ console

Hungars Episcopal Church, which is located in Bridgetown on the eastern shore of Virginia, has a quiet, but remarkable history.  It was founded in 1623.  This is noteworthy by any measure, but especially those of the early 21st century, where success is primarily gauged by “how much”, rather that “how well” or “how long”.  Since its founding there have been three Hungars Church buildings.  This building, interestingly, is the second.  It was built in 1679 using materials from the first church.  The cost was 10,000 lbs of tobacco and casks.  The church was used during the Revolutionary War to store ammunition, and underwent significant repair in 1819 and 1850.  The current interior was completed in 1892, with lighting and central heat installed in 1950, which I am sure were much welcome additions to worship.  The current church membership is 110 families, many of whom have worshiped at Hungars Church for generations.

Hungars Church is a beautiful church in a beautiful setting.  Its lines and proportions are simple and elegant.   Supporting structures are apparent to the eye.  The church walls are thicker at the base than they are at the top to ensure that the base does not buckle from the weight above.   The tops of the windows and doors are formed of arched, double soldier courses of brick and functional keystones, all of which conspire together to foil gravity, maintain their designed shape, and support the weight of the walls above.  The church interior is functional yet elegant.  All is painted white with the exception of pew caps and altar furnishings, which are made of native walnut.

When we were first contacted by Hungars Church, music in worship was led by an ailing electronic which was fifteen years old. While a search process for its replacement had already begun, a number of church members suggested the possibility of a pipe organ be added to the scope of the search.  This possibility was approved by the church vestry.

Early discussions of a pipe organ included three different concepts.  The first concept was to place a mechanical action organ on the left side wall of the chancel area, opposite the choir, with a reversed console.  The second concept was to place a mechanical action organ in the rear gallery with reversed console in a swallows nest configuration.  The third concept was to place an electric slider organ in the rear gallery with console on the right side of the chancel in close proximity to the choir.  The first concept was not chosen due to a strong desire in the congregation to leave the front of the church unaltered.  The second concept was not chosen because of fears that the distance between the organist/choir director would be too great for proper visual and musical communication.  The third concept was chosen.  It provided an excellent level of visual and musical communication between the choir and organist/choir director, placed the organ in a location with excellent projection of sound to the congregation, and was not too distant from the organist/choir director to cause a meaningful delay in the pipe response, or compromise the musical relationship between organ and choir.

Of primary importance to the success of the project was that the organ casework and console be architecturally compatible with the historic interior of Hungars Church.  In order for it to fit seamlessly into the existing architectural environment, we chose the following controlling architectural motifs in the design of the console and casework; frame and raised panel construction, crown moldings which are compatible with the original millwork, and the purposeful omission of ornament on the console, case, or pipe screens.

Achieving the proper stature and proportion was the primary focus of design of the casework.  It is a snug fit for its 13 stops, especially considering the fact that the gallery floor rakes upwards from the gallery rail to the rear wall of the church, gradually reducing the space available for pipe organ.  The maximum height of the organ case was predetermined from the outset by the distance from the lip of the gallery rail to the ceiling.  Because of this, it was the overall width of the facade, especially the three primary pipe arrays to the right, left, and center, that was critical in imparting to the organ its feeling of visual balance and elegance of design.

The console is a variation on our terraced design which we first used at St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans, LA.  Its white painted case is of poplar, with terraces of oiled cherry, and key cheeks, key slips and coupler rail of walnut.  Bone and ebony keyboards are complimented by a pedalboard of maple naturals and ebony sharps.  Macassar ebony drawknobs in oblique style provide good visibility of stop names from the bench, with the exception of those on the coupler rail, which are straight style.

Composing the specification for the organ, which is thirteen stops and eighteen ranks, was completed with the assistance of the Michael Regan, organ consultant for the project.  Designing an organ of thirteen stops is in many ways more challenging than designing an organ of forty stops.  With forty stops or more you can have just about everything that you want.  With thirteen stops, every choice is critical, and every choice leaves out something else.  While this fact guided our process of composing the specification, it was also influenced by an awareness of the special needs of music in the Episcopal liturgy, and a church acoustic which is somewhat warm with tremendous presence and clarity.

A small but flexible Pedal division provides harmonic support for the instrument.  The 16' Bourdon/8' Octave Bourdon starts as a full wood flute and develops into a lighter metal Gedackt in its upper range.  The 8' Violone/4' Principal is designed to start a bit larger and fuller than the Swell 8' Viola, and evolve into a Principal sound in the treble.  These stops together provide the fullness and warmth that is so necessary in the Pedal, and the flexibility needed to support the numerous registrations in the manuals, without being overbearing.

The Great is home for the ample Principal Chorus, minus the Mixture. The 8' Diapason is warm and singing, with the 8' Rohrbourdon being a bit lighter than the 8' Octave Bourdon.  Because we lack a 4' Flute in the Great, the 4' Prestant has been constructed and voiced to be a bit on the round side.  In this way it can be used very effectively with both 8' Diapason and 8' Rohrbourdon.  A light but present 2' Fifteenth is the crown of the division.

It is in the Swell that we find the color stops in the instrument.  This begins with the strings, which, being moderate in scale, produce a warm string sound with excellent ensemble capabilities.  The 8' Openflute is equal in volume to the 8' Rohrbourdon, but greatly contrasting in timber due to its open and tapered form.  Because it is an Openflute, it combines seamlessly with the 8' Viola, the two stops together creating a secondary 8' Diapason in the Swell.  As we do not have a 4' Octave Geigen in the Swell, the 4' Harmonic Flute is designed and voiced a bit on the bright side and works well with both the 8' Viola and 8' Openflute.  Lacking an independent 2' in the Swell, the III Cornet is a 2 2/3', 2' and 1 3/5'.  The II-IV Petitte Plein Jeu starts mild in the bass with a 1 1/3' and 1', and grows to four ranks through the first two octaves. At C25 it settles into a tone quality that is bright with some fullness in this warm and very present acoustic.  It works extremely well as the crown of the Great chorus, and with the Swell, its flexibility much enhanced by being under expression.  The 16' Bassoon, which was built by A. R. Schopp's Sons, is a prototype designed specifically for Hungars Church, and has proved itself to be very successful.  It begins full but not overpowering in the bass.  As it moves up through its compass, it becomes a bit more thin and focused, without losing its essential color.  This gradual evolution allows it to work extremely well in both solo and ensemble applications.

The history and durability of Hungars Church is enviable.  It has stood against time while many larger institutions have failed along the way.  This is, I believe, because of the abiding connection between the church and its congregation.  The church stands alone on a corner, surrounded by fields and stands of trees.  This reflects the agricultural roots of the Hungars congregation, and their self reliant spirit.  The church is no nonsense, yet elegant in design.  This reflects their outspoken character, tempered by good judgment.  It is my hope that the Hungars Church pipe organ also reflects the character of the congregation, as it is warm, gracious and welcoming.  Hungars Church is off of paths most traveled.  I am sure that you will feel the richer for it.

New Specification and Console Details

Compass: Manuals 61 Notes
  Pedals 32 Notes
Keyaction: Electric Slider
Stopaction: Electric Solenoid
Unit Chests: Electropneumatic


1. 16' Bourdon 32
2. 8' Violone 32
8'   Octave Bourdon 12
4'   Principal 12
16'   Bassoon Swell
3. 8' Diapason 61
4. 8' Rohrbourdon 61
5. 4' Prestant 61
6. 2' Fifteenth 61
    Great 16'
    Great Unison Off
    Great 4'
7. 8' Viola 61
8. 8' Viola Celeste 49
9. 8' Openflute 61
10. 4' Harmonic Flute 61
11. III Cornet tc 147
12. II-IV Petite Plein Jeu 208
13. 16' Bassoon 12
8'   Bassoon 61
    Swell 16'
    Swell Unison Off
    Swell 4'


  Great to Pedal 8' Reversible by Toe Stud & Piston
  Swell to Pedal 8' Reversible by Toe Stud & Piston
  Swell to Pedal 4'
  Swell to Great 16'
  Swell to Great 8'
  Swell to Great 4'
  Generals 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 Piston & Toe Stud
  Set   Piston
  General Cancel   Piston
  Full Organ Reversible   Piston &Toe Stud


  Terraced Drawknob Console
  Manual Natural Keys - Bone
  Manual Sharp Keys - Ebony
  Pedal Natural Keys - Maple
  Pedal Sharp Keys - Ebony
  Drawknobs - Macassar Ebony
  Organ Bench with Adjusting Crank Mechanism
  Music Rack Light
  Pedalboard Light
  Swell Expression Pedal
  Crescendo Pedal
  Organ Relay and Combination Action with 10 Levels of Memory
  1 H.P. Slow Speed Blower
  16 Stage Swell Expression Motor
  Keyed Start/ Stop Switch Located on Console
2909 Meyer Avenue | Cleveland, Ohio 44109 | Tel. 216.741.5180 | Fax 216.741.0678

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