U.S. pipe organ makers reported building only 91 instruments in 2010, down 14% from 2009 and 40% from 2008, according to the Organ Historical Society in Richmond, Va.
A small church in a suburb … that previously might have bought a small pipe organ, now maybe buys an electric organ or a guitar or a bass drum, says Scot Huntington, president of the historical society.
For churches hoping to draw more young people to worship services, the pipe organ sounds out-of-date, says Josh Hunt, a Baptist pastor and national consultant to churches trying to increase membership.
"Young people today don't listen to pipe organ music on their iPods," he says.
With the changing of popularity of pipe organs over the years, a number of formerly quite successful pipe organ builders have gone out of business. Examples include:
Estey Organ Company of Brattleboro, VT from 1853.
The Rieger Organ, Inc. of New Jersey acquired control in 1953. Subsequently, Fletcher Music Centers in 1989 bought the name.
The Los Angeles Art Organ Co., the builder of the largest still functional pipe organ (now installed at Macy's in Philidelphia and referred to as the Wanamaker Grand Court Organ), only operated from 1903 to 1905. (It was built for the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair.)
Æolian-Skinner Organ Company, Inc. of Boston, Massachusetts from its inception as the Skinner Organ Company in 1901 until its closure in 1972, the year following their installation of the organ at National Presbyterian Church and Center in Washington, DC.
Mathias Peter Möeller founded the M.P. Moller Pipe Organ Company in Greencastle, Pennsylvania, in 1875. The city of Hagerstown, Maryland induced him to move his business there in 1881 to help make Hagerstown a viable business center in Western Maryland. The company remained in business until 1992.
Hinners Organ Company of Pekin, Illinois. Established 1879 and closed in 1942. Business declined in the 1930s due to the Great Depression, changing technology, and increasing competition. By being among the first to make his products widely affordable to ordinary people across rural America, John Hinners has been compared to both Henry Ford and Aaron Montgomery Ward.
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