J.H. & C.S. Odell, Pipe Organ Builders

More than 150 years building distinctive and refined instruments for worship

Brothers John Henry and Caleb Sherwood Odell founded the organ building firm of J.H. & C.S. Odell on the bustling corner of West 42nd Street and 9th Avenue in New York City in 1859. Odell was immediately successful and built more than 500 pipe organs at that location before relocating to Westchester, New York in the 1930s.   Odell remained active in the Greater New York Metropolitan area well into the 1970s, but after the death of the principal of the firm, William H. Odell in 1979, decided to dissolve the firm after completing obligations to then-current clients.

In the pursuit of a long sought vision, the Odell company was re-established by Caleb Sherwood Odell's  great-great grandson Edward Odell, in 1999 -- this after garnering more than twenty years of organ building experience -- both on his own and with other well-established national firms. With more than three decades of full-time work in the trade, Edward is now a respected and credentialed professional as a Colleague member of the American Institute of Organbuilders.  The new Odell firm has been active in a modern shop in central Connecticut for more than 15 years.

Since re-establishing the firm, Odell has successfully built many exciting new pipe organs, executed meticulous historic restorations and performed vastly complicated repair projects. With our team of carefully recruited artisans, Odell performs all its own millwork, joinery, fabrication, voicing and finishing. Further, unlike many firms today, Odell casts its own pipe metal and makes its own organ pipes.

Timelessness, musicality and an unflinching commitment to quality are our foremost concerns as pipe organ builders. We possess a profound dedication to our work;  clients quickly learn  that when they partner with Odell, they work directly with people who -- given the opportunity  --  will design and construct their instrument from raw materials with passion and exactitude. Our ever-present goal is to develop nuanced solutions and create pipe organs that will serve their congregations with reliability and grace for generations to come.

In Memoriam: Francis M. Elliott

 It is with sincere regret that I learned  this weekend of the passing of my very good friend Francis M. Elliott,  formerly of Manassas, Virginia. Francis had been organist at the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Manassas, which is home to Odell opus 80.  Francis had stepped down in 2013, but held the position at the church for over 20 years.  Francis' brother, the late Rev. Dr. Edwin Elliott, was the Pastor. In addition to their work together at church, Francis and Edwin edited and published the Christian Observer, which is America’s oldest religious magazine.  The magazine is still in publication, today edited by Bob Williams.

I came to know Francis around 1992 or 1993. It was a very early and uncertain time in my career as an organ builder, but because of his particular interest in the Odell firm, Frances made a point to befriend, assist and encourage me, something he continued to do over the years.  Francis invited me to visit with his family and come see opus 80, and took me around to see historic instruments in the greater Baltimore area, including Odell opus 277 (Jenkins Memeorial) and 315 (Bethel A.M.E., formerly St. Peter’s). Francis was active in the Hilbus Chapter of the OHS, and through them, referred me to St. Luke’s Episcopal in Brighton, Maryland, for whom I did a series of small projects as I was getting started in those early days.

While I had recovered and placed the original Odell company records at at the American Organ Archives at Talbott Library in Wesminster Choir College in 1995, it is thanks to Francis that I have a full copy set of the those records, as well as some other valuable family heirlooms which he managed to acquire while researching a never-completed book about the Odell company.   After kindly returning those materials to me, Francis continued to follow my career with interest and we remained in touch over the years.  He expressed great pride in how I had not only reestablished the firm, but continued to burnish my skills and build the company's resources to include key elements of organ building with millwork, cabinet making, mechanical action and most especially pipe metal casting and pipe making.

I am presently waiting for world about funeral arrangements and will post them when they become available.

"Well done, good and faithful servant."

Odell opus 80 was originally built  for the East Millstone Reformed Church in New Jersey. It was bought back by the company when the congregation sold their building in 1978, and was set up in the old  Morningside Ave. shop for several years.  The 1988 sale to RPC was brokered through the Organ Clearing House through the efforts of the late Alan Laufman. The organ was restored and installed in Manassas by one of my father Harry Odell’s last assistants: Anthony Meloni. The restoration of opus 80 was one of Mr. Meloni's first solo projects in his post-Odell career; the organ and Mr. Meloni’s work have held up exceedingly well.

Odell opus 80 was originally built  for the East Millstone Reformed Church in New Jersey. It was bought back by the company when the congregation sold their building in 1978, and was set up in the old  Morningside Ave. shop for several years.  The 1988 sale to RPC was brokered through the Organ Clearing House through the efforts of the late Alan Laufman. The organ was restored and installed in Manassas by one of my father Harry Odell’s last assistants: Anthony Meloni. The restoration of opus 80 was one of Mr. Meloni's first solo projects in his post-Odell career; the organ and Mr. Meloni’s work have held up exceedingly well.