In May 2005, Barry Howard and Larry Fenner of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, USA, started to plan a new house that could accommodate a theatre pipe organ, although at that time they didn’t own an organ. The plans included two pipe chambers that were each 9 feet wide, 14 feet deep, and 14 feet high. The house plans were finalized after four months, a building contract was signed, and the start of construction was imminent. Within a week of signing the contract, they discovered Opus 501 advertised for sale on the internet, went to Connecticut to see the instrument, and immediately bought it. The day after purchasing the organ the builder was contacted to make the first (of many) changes to the house plans: extend the chamber floor to the basement in order to provide a 23˝ foot ceiling to accommodate the 16’ foot Wooden Diaphones. House construction began in October 2005 and was completed in March 2006. Their home is affectionately known as "Leathering Heights."
Barry and Larry are very grateful to Beth Boda for allowing them to delay removal of the organ until the new house was completed and work to prepare the old house for sale was finished. The first trip to Connecticut to move the organ was in a rented 10-foot cargo van on July 26, 2006. That trip was followed by 11 additional trips in a cargo van, eight trips by car, and one final trip in a rented 14-foot box truck. Due to various delays, including weather, illnesses, and one hospitalization (oddly not caused by the move), the last trip was made on June 23, 2007. In all, we made 24 trips to Connecticut (including 3 for “social” visits) totaling over 15,o00 miles!
We would very much like to thank Beth Boda, George Bell, and John Angevine (recipient of ATOS’ 2007 Award for Technical Excellence/Technician of the Year) for all of their help in dismantling and loading the organ in Connecticut. We also wish to thank Bob Matterness, Doug and Barb Eyman, Hans Herr, Rich Schaeffer, and Scott Ellison for helping to unload the final truck in Pennsylvania and for continuing to help us during the installation of the organ.
Prior to installation, the organ is being completely cleaned, refinished, releathered, and rebuilt. Plans include respecification, a new solid state relay and combination action, restoration of the console to its original mahogany finish, and fitting the console with new stop action magnets and stop tablets. WurliTzer Brass Trumpet and Brass Saxophone ranks were purchased to replace the original brass ranks which were missing when the organ was removed from the theatre. A Post Horn and an additional WurliTzer Vox Humana will be added to the organ, resulting in a 3-manual, 17-rank instrument.