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 December of 2008 we completed a special project for the Zabriskie Memorial Church of St. John the Evangelist located in historic Newport, Rhode Island.

St. John's is home to a distinguished Hook and Hastings organ from 1894, which was rebuilt and electrified by that same firm in 1934. While the organ remains tonally extant and in otherwise very good condition, the mechanism of the 1934 console (whose quality, while respectable, was not on par with the rest of the organ) was largely non-functional when we first examined it in 2006.

Add to this the somewhat austere appearance of the old console cabinet in a sanctuary otherwise well-appointed with traditional Gothic architectural elements, and one can understand the desire of the church to have a new design for a replacement console worthy of its setting. This new terrace-jamb console is made from quarter-sawn white oak, as are the other furnishings of the church.

Integrating carved lancets and rosettes into our console design was a challenge we welcomed. To see images from the design process and the final product, click on the photo of the pipe facade at right to launch the image gallery. You may note that we have integrated the pattern of lancets and rosettes in a manner that closely matches the installed Choir modesty rail.

In addition to the fabricating and installing the console, we completely rewired the organ in compliance with currect electrical codes, restored and stencilled the West-facing facade, and designed and built new electro-pneumatic windchests for the Pedal Bourdon 16' and Violoncello 8'.

More work for the organ at St. John's is planned, including restoration and stencilling of the South-facing facade, restoration of the Great Trumpet and Pedal Trombone, and other much-needed mechanical repairs.

St. John the Evangelist, Newport, Rhode Island
Hook and Hastings Opus 1611 and 2610 (1894 and 1934) | II/26 | Electropneumatic Key and Stop Action