Virtually unaltered since its installation in 1880, the Odell tracker organ (Opus 178) at St. Charles is a living historical document. It is specifically referenced in Dr. Orpha Ochse’s “History of the Organ in the United States” as well as other works on American organ building.

The scaling and voicing provide an excellent example of the work that made the Odells so popular in the Victorian era. The specification includes characteristic Odell stops, including a Clarionet Flute on the Great. The composition of the Swell and Great mixtures (which are identical), includes a tierce. Manual I (named “Solo”) includes a 7″ Tuba, as well as a Clarionet. Contrary to some anecdotal history, the Tuba is planted on the Solo chest, playing on the same 3.5″ of wind as the rest of the organ. One could speculate that the tonal design for St. Charles may have been influenced by an organ the Odells were building for William Belden, which had begun one year prior in 1879.

Features of the organ include a reversible Swell to Great coupler, the usual compliment of composition pedals, and a Swell box with two sets of tandem-acting expression shades, one behind the other.

While some churches in this Brooklyn neighborhood are on their third or fourth pipe organ, this Opus 178 has been in continuous service for over 120 years. Running from a Kinetic blower, the double-rise wind reservoir long ago lost its crank and feeders. Aside from that, the only other appreciable interior alterations are to the metal flue pipes, which were fitted with coke tin tuning sleeves.

For more information, please visit the J.H. & C.S. Odell Organs website.