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.

Our Opus 327, as well as the church itself, was a gift from Mrs. Elliott Shepard as a memorial to her husband.

The architects of record for the church are Haydel and Shepard, a short-lived partnership of Stanford White's nephew, Haydel, and a nephew of Elliott Shepard. Their only other significant building, the Fabbri Mansion on Manhattan's 64th street, echoes the neo-classical style of both Woodlea and the Scarborough Church-- briefly called, "Shepard Memorial," but organized as Scarborough Presbyterian. A reprint of the dedication announcement from the May 12, 1895 edition of the New York Times may be seen here.

The instrument was originally conceived as two manuals and twenty-six ranks, with slider chests. It was among our first (if not the first) electric action instrument; the console was originally installed in the front of the church, but later moved to the gallery.

After years of planning, restoration work has finally been completed. During the first week of February, 2009, our crew, headed by shop Foreman John Williams, worked with Auer's Rigging on the dismantling and removal of the organ. After careful restoration at our facility, the organ was reinstalled one year later in January of 2010.

Our work included a thorough restoration of all pipes, both slider windchests, console and facade.  Several tonal and mechanical changes which had been made to the organ over the years were carefully reversed. The manual keyboard compass was returned to the original 58 notes. The winding system was entirely re-engineered, providing for several enhancements, especially in the organ's electro-pneumatic stop action system, which now has its own independent high-pressure reservoir. New facade casework and paneling were fabricated to better match existing architectural elements.

Odell opus 327, Scarborough Presbyterian Church


Click for stop list:  Odell opus 327