The pipe organ, long valued in the presentation of the liturgy in Anglican churches, has been an important adjunct to the musical life of Saint Ann's Church since its early days as a mission. Prior to the dedication of the present building in 1956, services were held in what is now the Nearly New Shop. This building held a small organ built by the Hilbome L. Roosevelt Company in the 1870's.
When the present building was erected, a 1932 Aeolian residence organ originally from Millbrook, NY, was installed. This organ had a 3-manual console and contained 21 ranks of pipes. It served from 1956 until the present instrument was installed, with major improvements accomplished in 1961 funded by E. Lea Marsh and his sisters as a memorial to their parents.
The genesis of the present organ, by the Gress-Miles Organ Company, was built and installed in 1973. It was also at this time that the rear gallery was constructed in order to accommodate organ, console and choir in the same location. Until this time, the console and the choir were at the front of the church, with the pipes at the rear.
By 1993, tastes had begun to change and a few deficiencies in the switching systems had started to make themselves felt. The strongly "neo-baroque" bias of the instrument was found less and less to serve well the tradition of Anglican service playing. An Organ Study Committee was formed and began a long process of visiting organs and learning just what this "king of instruments" was all about. Their deliberations confirmed the foregoing, and defined the problem as one of the organ being incomplete. Consultants Duncan Phyfe and Barbara 0wen aided these deliberations. It was decided that the work would be entrusted to Foley-Baker, Inc., who had maintained the organ since its installation. Mike Foley, President of Foley-Baker and Richard S. Hedgebeth, Tonal Director of the firm joined discussions. The scope of discussions expanded to include not only programmatic requirements for the organ, but the importance of visual and acoustical considerations as well. The specifications that were ultimately arrived at for the rebuilding of the organ are a result of the committee's many meetings and the input of all mentioned above and many others. The many hours devoted to getting the project off the ground by the church's Music Director, H. Steven Houser, must especially be cited.
The church has been provided with an instrument considerably more versatile in its tonal resources, more supportive of congregational singing, and one which bears appropriate visual witness to its presence and to the importance felt by the parish of the contribution of music to the liturgical experience.
Foley-Baker Personnel involved in the project included Michael E. Foley, President, Allen Jon Hill, Vice-President, Richard S. Hedgebeth, Tonal Director, Chester A. Hicks, Shop Foreman, Phillip J. Carpenter, Field Supervisor, Carl Meshanic, Mitch Nagel, Mark Peterson, Bruce Racz and Steve Rittenhouse.
Casework of mahogany housing the Great Organ was designed by Richard S. Hedgebeth and constructed by Stephen Beeching, Tolland, Connecticut.