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.

Brothers John Henry and Caleb Sherwood Odell founded the organ building firm of J.H. & C.S. Odell in 1859. Despite strong competition from other well-established organ builders based in New York City in the late-nineteenth century, as builders the Odells enjoyed an immediate popularity, turning out an average of 10 to 12 organs a year by 1870.

The Odells distinguished themselves as builders of refined instruments for worship from the outset; it is no coincidence that many of the major religious edifices of New York City have or had an Odell instrument at some point in their history. A short list would include St. Patrick’s Cathedral, St. Bartholomew’s, Fifth Avenue Presbyterian, Marble Collegiate, St. Charles Borromeo and St. Michael's, 34th Street.

One of most notable instruments built by the firm is their Opus 190 (III/45, 1881) located at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, in Troy, New York. This unique organ is believed to be the only extant 19th Century concert hall instrument in this country.

Operating from the works on West 42nd Street until well after the turn of the century, the firm moved to Westchester County, New York in 1928. Over the course of the 20th century, the firm has survived the Great Depression, two World Wars and drastic changes in the pipe organ industry. In 2009 the firm celebrated 150 years of a family organ building legacy; Odell is the only familyorgan building firm founded in New York City in the late-nineteenth century that remains operating today, and is the oldest family-owned and operated organ building firm in America.

Today, under the direction of Edward Odell, the firm is active in a modern facility in East Haddam, Connecticut with a staff and a shop equipped for all aspects of organ building.

Recent installations include the firm’s new mechanical action organ at the Chapel of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary in New York City (Opus 653, 2014) , a new three manual drawknob console (Opus 651, 2013) for the Norfolk Church of Christ Congregational, a new two manual, electric action organ with slider chests for the historic Congregational Church of Orange, Connecticut (Opus 649, 2011).  

A new, two manual slider chest organ (Opus 652)  is presently nearing completion for Westminter Presbyterian Chruch in Rock Tavern, New York, while the firm is concurrently working on a major redesign and rebuild for St. Luke's Episcopal Church in San, Antonio, Texas.

Inside the Odell shop, ca. 1872

Odell Opus 190: Troy Music Hall

Odell Opus 190: Troy Music Hall

The first Odell shop: 407-409 West 42nd Street, Manhattan.