Week 1: On Thursday, June 17, the team from Goulding & Wood Pipe Organ Builders arrived at St. James. Along with 15 volunteers, the Goulding & Wood staff unloaded the semi-truck containing all ten tons of organ between 11am and 6pm.

Weeks 2-3: Over the next week, the Goulding & Wood team worked hard on the installation of this fabulous new instrument. The church was filled with thousands of individual parts that would eventually be incorporated into the structure and mechanisms of the organ.

Weeks 4-6: Technicians from Goulding & Wood have been tuning and voicing our brand new pipe organ, the company’s Opus 53. In this process, each of the more than 2,600 individual pipes is tuned by hand, and then painstakingly adjusted to create the most beautiful sound possible.

We were thrilled to be able to use part of the organ on Sunday, July 11 at the 10:30am service – the first time a full pipe organ has been heard in our church since March of 2020. This was a good chance to “test drive” the organ, and we will continue testing it this Sunday, July 18 when even more is usable. Goulding & Wood will continue to work this week, and we should be able to use the full organ this Sunday.

The grand premier will be Sunday, July 25, when we celebrate St. James Sunday! Members of the congregation are invited to come up into the chancel at the end of any service to listen to the closing voluntary and get a “tour” of the new instrument.

Stay tuned for even more exciting events to help celebrate the inauguration of this magnificent new instrument!

If you would like a personal tour of the ongoing work or if you have questions, please feel free to reach out to our Director of Music, Shannon Gallier, at sgallier@stjamesbr.org.



Project Background

St. James hired Tipton and Associates at the start of 2019 to create a full set of plans that covered top to bottom and east to west (altar to narthex) restoration and renovation of the church building, including the repair of the existing organ. The priority throughout the planning process was the preservation and restoration of the historic beauty of the church. A committee dedicated to the organ was convened as it became clear that the current organ could not be properly restored and revoiced as desired. The committee recommended that a new organ be built for St. James, specifically designed for accompanying choral singing and leading the congregation in singing hymns and service music. After consulting with various industry experts, builders, and churches, the Indianapolis-based Goulding & Wood Pipe Organ Builders, one of the nation’s leading organbuilders, was selected to build a three-manual organ. While the majority of the church renovations were completed in January of 2021, the organ faced delays due to covid-related issues, until it’s eventual and highly-anticipated arrival in June 2021.

The meticulous process began in May of 2020 with the piece-by-piece removal of the 1975 Schlicker organ. While some of the pipe work was reused by Goulding & Wood for the new organ, majority of the mechanical pieces and pipe work were recycled by St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Baton Rouge. The utmost care was taken during the process in order to protect and package each of the thousands of pieces of the instrument. 

After a temporary shutdown of the Goulding & Wood offices due to COVID-19, construction of the new organ officially began in July 2020 with the team taking final measurements of the newly-emptied chambers in the church as the the organ would eventually have to be fully assembled in Goulding & Wood’s shop in the exact configuration to avoid any last-minute problems with installation. The team then got to work on the inner-workings of the Opus 53, and pipe orders were made. The keyboards also began construction in the U.K. during this time. 

By January of 2021, the façade pipes were in the process of being painted by an artist in northern Indiana, who would create a beautiful work of art to complement the space. 

In May of 2021, St. James’ Director of Music Shannon Gallier visited the workshop of Goulding & Wood in Indianapolis to inspect the nearly complete organ and finalize tonal aspects with the staff there. While there, Goulding & Wood also hosted a highly-successful open house for local Indiana organists to hear and see the organ for the first time. The following week, the organ was dismantled and packed up for its trip to Baton Rouge.