Although this instrument is not our work, we are including photos of the Wigton Organ in Old St. Mary's Church in the "Greektown" part of Detroit as a tribute to a worthy artisan who has constructed here one of the finest instruments using the highest standards of organ building craftsmanship we have ever seen anywhere in the world!
Our involvement with the instrument was very minor, in that it consisted primarily of Tonal Finishing assistance to builder David Wigton in 1990. The execution of the tonal finishing work was carried out in such a way as to utilize the abilities of the individuals involved to the highest degree of skill-level they possess. Accordingly, David did the finishing on the reed stops since this is work in which he excels, while Richard Schneider handled the majority of the flue ranks; particularly the Principals.
Some interesting facts concerning the construction of this instrument:
- All of the timber for the French Classic-inspired casework was native Michigan-grown white Oak, which was harvested and quarter-sawn by David Wigton and his co-workers. It was first air seasoned and then finally kiln-dried in his own shop. All of the sections of the massive casework were meticulously constructed using expensive and time-consuming stile and rail joinery machined from solid quarter-sawn white oak. Even the expansive back of the case,normally hidden from view, employs these time-consuming and expensive cabinetmaking techniques. This is but one of the many examples of the high artistry David brought to bear upon this project. The work clearly reveals exacting craftsmanship, careful attention paid to every possible detail and "going the extra mile" to ensure that this would be an instrument worthy of the title of "world-class"! It is rare indeed to see an instrument constructed with such high standards of workmanship lavished on it throughout.
- Due to the immense size and complexity of the project, it was constructed in several sections at a time. First, the Rückpositiv casework was constructed and installed in 1985. Then the main case followed in 1990. Due to physical limitations in the Wigton workshop, it was necessary to construct the instrument in "halves"; broken at the Impost (the rail at the feet of the pipes) level. The bottom half was first constructed in the Wigton shop, then taken to the church and installed. Afterward, the upper portion of the casework was then constructed on the floor of the shop and then finally joined to the Impost already on-site in the church.
- The detached console was also designed and constructed in the Wigton shop. The design is a variation on French terraced construction in the manner of Cavillé-Coll. However, instead of using draw knobs, rocker tablets were substituted in order to accommodate the large number of stops and still keep the console as compact as possible.
- The commitment and tenacity of David Wigton in completing this heroic project is to be greatly admired. In the course of constructing this magnificent instrument, builder David Wigton suffered a debilitating accident on a table saw to one of his hands. This accident forced a lengthy curtailment of work on the project because of required corrective surgery and extensive physical therapy before he was able to resume work on the project again.
This instrument stands to the Glory of God and is a worthy example of meticulous woodworking craftsman. Excellent work is its own reward and it is hoped that by placing this webpage, one of the most worthy examples of the organ builder's art can be more widely acclaimed and acknowledged. In today's society where artificialness and mediocrity are the norm, it is refreshing and exciting to experience first-hand the construction of an instrument that should not only last for generations to come, but does so with such noble and beautiful proportions and a clear singing voice.
I consider it a rare privilege to have been involved with this project in even a minor way.