HELP ENSURE THE RESTORATION OF:
         SKINNER ORGAN OPUS 637
AN HISTORIC PIPE ORGAN LOCATED AT COLUMBIA HIGH SCHOOL, MAPLEWOOD NJ
The CHS Organ Fund is applying for a grant to restore Columbia's Historic Pipe Organ.

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    1889-1919, FOUNDATIONS:
NOTHING

So who was this Ernest Martin Skinner? At age twelve Skinner made his first attempt to build a player pipe organ but couldn't get it to work. At age twenty he took a position with the noted nineteenth century organ-builder, George Ryder. He was fired by the shop foreman one morning and then went to work for George S. Hutchings Organ Company from 1889 to 1901. In February, 1898, he traveled abroad to England, France and Holland and examined the great pipe organs in these countries. While in England he met Henry "Father" Willis and was deeply influenced by the instrument at St. George's Hall in Liverpool. In 1901 he struck out on his own to realize his dream of making the pipe organ more expressive, like orchestral instruments, by exploiting all the benefits that the modern electro-pneumatic action allowed. He developed and greatly refined entirely new families of stops for the pipe organ. Unfortunately, Mr. Skinner was not a good businessman, frequently spending more money on his organs than the contract allowed and was occasionally delivering them behind schedule. Nevertheless, the Skinner firm’s immaculate workmanship, clever innovations and beautiful tone consistently attracted new clients.

    1919-1924, GROWING REPUTATION:
NOTHING On August 23, 1919, Skinner gained financial salvation when millionaire chemist and organ aficionado, Arthur Hudson Marks (1874-1939). Having made his fortune with Goodyear through his invention of the rubber vulcanization process, Marks bought the controlling interest of the Ernest M. Skinner Company and proceeded to reorganize, streamline, and capitalize the new firm as the Skinner Organ Company. Marks financed factory expansions, product development, and several elaborate showrooms including a Worth Avenue branch in Palm Beach that is now a Gucci store.

A sumptuous showroom was constructed on 5th Avenue, complete with several pipe organs. From here, the Skinner name gained new levels of notoriety on the radio. Carried by radio pioneer WAHG, later known as 880 WCBS, a weekly one hour organ recital was carried on this early clear channel to much of the country. Period publicity material stated:

Reports from the southern coast of Cuba, from Florida, Louisiana, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Canada say that the wonderful tone and color of the Skinner organ is plainly audible and that it is by far the finest music so far put on the air. Letters from Hospitals, clubs, rude huts in the mountains, schools, music academies, missions in the slums, camps in the far North, and residences far and near all bear witness to the beauty and grandeur of the Skinner Organ “on the air”.
Continue to: 1924-1927, WILLIS INFLUENCE  
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
ABOUT SKINNER ORGANS `
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THE ORGAN AND THE COMMUNITY
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