Within a decade of moving to an initial building at our Ponce de Leon Avenue site, the vision of a major sanctuary was being planned. The church leaders wanted the church to have a worship space of exceptional reverence and inspiration. That vision included the architecture of the building and its components. The most prominent elements of the sanctuary, which opened in 1940, were its Gothic Revival design, the stained glass windows, and the pipe organ. For the organ, the church leaders wanted to install a very fine instrument so they called upon the premier pipe organ builder in America at that time, the Æolian-Skinner Organ Company of Boston, a company that was renowned for its excellence of quality and technical innovation. For the design and installation of the Druid Hills organ, we secured Æeolian-Skinner’s tonal director and president, G. Donald Harrison, one of the most sought-after and influential tonal designers and voicers in the industry.
The organ premiered on the day the sanctuary opened for its first worship service, September 22, 1940. It was the Æolian-Skinner Organ Company’s 1004th installed organ and their first in the Atlanta area. The organ was expanded slightly in 1945 to total 2,108 pipes in 36 ranks, now considered Æeolian-Skinner’s opus 1004-A. Slight additions and adjustments or enhancements have been implemented through subsequent years, but the basics of the organ remain virtually unchanged since 1945. A zimbelstern was added in 1995, the internal components of the console were converted to solid state in 2005 and tubular chimes were installed in 2016. There are three manuals and a pedalboard, with 33 stops. The Swell and Choir pipe chambers are under expression. For more information about the specifications of this beautiful instrument click here
The pipe organ of Druid Hills Presbyterian Church is in rare company among organs in the United States. It is one of only 19 surviving Æolian-Skinner organs planned, crafted and signed by its designer, G. Donald Harrison. Fine music has been an integral part of worship at Druid Hills Presbyterian Church for decades. This organ has beautifully fulfilled the vision of the church leaders when the sanctuary was designed. It is a magnificent complement to the worship of God, assisting the members in congregational singing, accompanying the choir, soloists and other instruments, and providing organ interpretation.