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.

After going to contract in late  2008, in 2011 we completed our project to repair, replace and upgrade the wiring, expression and DC power systems for the pipe organ at the Cadet Chapel of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York.  The catalyst for this work was lightning damage that took several divisions of the organ offline in 2007.

Working directly with Head Organ Curator Grant Chapman, we systematically upgraded and replaced all windchest and power wiring in compliance with current  electrical codes.   We further replaced power supplies, relay controls, expression motors and began the implementation and installation of the solid-state switching and control system to supersede prior installed diode-matrix and open contact systems.   The new switching hardware was provided by Solid State Organ Systems of Alexandria, Virginia.   

The organ console's capture system, installed many years ago and provided by Syndyne, was retained and repaired with the procurement of 24 specially fabricated LS2464 capture system boards to replace those that were damaged in the original lightning strike.

Our work was executed in the Nave, Transept Great, Transept Positiv, Swell and Harmonic divisions (Tiers IV through VI only).   Solo, Orchestral and Harmonic Tiers I through III remained relegated to future phases of the project.

In compliance with Mr. Chapman's requirements, we meticulously documented every aspect of our work in every section of the organ.  This outsize undertaking has necessitated an expansion in our technical staff and given us a welcome opportunity to work on a challenging but prestigious project.   We are proud to play our role, however minor, as faithful stewards of a National treasure.

Cadet Chapel, United States Military Academy at West Point


M.P. Moller, 1911 and 1951, with ongoing additions | IV/380


Photo credit: James Wellman