The name Ernest M. Skinner is synonymous with the greatest of the American Church Organs and from 1904 until 1935 Skinner built instruments for the most prestigious churches in the Country.
The list of his installations is long and impressive as was that of his successor, the Aeolian-Skinner Company (1935-1969).
Throughout its nearly 70 year history, no organs built in North America were considered to be equal to those of the Skinner Companies and although there are many reasons for this enviable record, suffice to say they were simply the best anywhere.
The Organ in Saint Mary’s Church, Shelter Island, Opus #557, originaly installed in the
Westhampton Presbyterian Church, Long Island, NY, is an excellent example of Ernest Skinner’s dedication to quality of mechanical and tonal design.
Although the original instrument was considered small, it was not limited in tonal resource as the choice of stops, their design and voicing were perfect. The original instrument, until 2013, contained 15 Stops - 9 Ranks - 532 Pipes which are playable from a two Manual and Pedal - English style console with Pistons and Toe Studs. As a result of a Fund left to Saint Mary’s with the sole purpose of maintaining and enlarging the Instrument, major work was accomplished in the Fall of 2012 and Winter of 2013.
The additions and restoration added both stops, ranks and versatility to the beautiful instrument and included: updating much of the working action to digital functions while maintaining the original mechanical stop and piston action of the original instrument. The updated and preserved instrument now contains 35 Stops - 26 Ranks - and through a Digital Pedal division provides two 32' Pedal stops and a State Trumpet. This work was the joy of Jo Ellen Elsner and William Stimson of the Elsener Organ Works of Long Island New York.
The gift of this beautiful instrument from Mr. And Mrs. Alexander Mitchell formerly of
Bridgehampton, New York provided Saint Mary’s with a glorious asset to be used for worship. Mr. Mitchell’s family was one of the first members of the Parish when it was founded in 1873 and the late Mrs. Mitchell, the former Henrietta Hovey, was instrumental in reopening the church from a summer chapel to a year round mission church in 1955. The Skinner Organ was given in loving memory of her children, Will Whiting Hovey and Mary Elizabeth Hovey. Mr. Mitchell currently resides in Danville, Virginia.
SOLI! DEO! GLORIA!
Fr. Ronald W. Wickey - July 2014