Most frequent questions and answers

October 2023

The additional pipes we acquired have arrived at the church and are being incorporated into the organ. The restored and expanded console has been refinished and looks fabulous. We invite everyone to come hear and possibly even ‘feel’ the new organ when it makes its debut during morning worship on November 5th at 11AM.  

Additionally – join us on NOVEMBER 12, 3:00 for the organ’s concert debut!

We are pleased to unveil our newly restored historic Æolian-Skinner pipe organ to the community in a FREE concert on Sunday, November 12 at 3:00 p.m. Internationally renowned organist Maestro Hector Olivera will present a program of classical and popular literature that will also feature his famous on-the-spot improvisations. 

Born in Buenos Aires (Argentina), Maestro Olivera was first encouraged at age three to begin playing the pipe organ by his organist father, and his talent was immediately unleashed.  By age five, he was appointed organist at that city’s Church of the Immaculate Conception.  At age six, he entered the Buenos Aires Conservatory.  By age nine, he had composed a suite for oboe and string orchestra, performed by the Buenos Aires Symphony Orchestra.  At age twelve, he entered the University of Buenos Aires and by age eighteen had performed more than three hundred concerts throughout Latin America.  In 1965, New York’s famed Julliard School of Music offered him a scholarship so he moved to the United States to continue his education.  Three years later, he won the National Improvisation Contest by the American Guild of Organists and his professional concert career was launched.

July 2023

At last, we are thrilled to announce the GOOD NEWS that the installation of our restored Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ has begun! While dealing with a variety of delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the A.E Schlueter Pipe Organ Company has been meticulously restoring our organ in their Lithonia shop. Part of their crew arrived at the church on Thursday July 13 to begin the installation by removing original, now obsolete, wiring in the Swell and Choir chambers. In subsequent days, they worked installing the components that will supply air pressure to those pipes, which should begin being installed the first week of August. Once that work is substantially completed, they will move to the Great and Pedal division, then finally install the restored console. Watch for additional updates which we should be able to provide more often now!

Jan 2023

Our pipe organ’s restoration is well on its way.  Half the metal pipes and almost all of the wooden pipes have been cleaned of 82 years of dust and oxidation and will next be adjusted to their original specifications.  Thousands of tiny operating components are being restored. Design changes to the console have been finalized and its rewiring upgrade is underway.  As for fundraising to pay for the restoration, we announce the GOOD NEWS that we have raised the $30,000 and earned the challenge matching grant! With this we have also reached our overall $415,000 basic goal!  The campaign will remain open with the aim of contributing toward an endowment to pay for ongoing routine maintenance.  WE THANK ALL OUR CONTRIBUTORS for your generosity and hope you will continue to support this cause in 2023.  Please look forward to hearing the fruit of your contributions later this year when the restoration is complete!

Nov 2022

Restoration on our pipe organ continues. Work is nearing completion on the reservoirs and chests. Cleaning, some replacements and adjustments on the thousands of small valves and contacts continues. Other technicians are cleaning and refinishing pipes while replacing worn-out scrolls and tuning sleeves with some ranks already completed, such as the clarinet. The design of the reconfigured console has been finalized and that rebuilding work will begin soon. Meanwhile, our fundraising continues and the horizon is within view. A benefactor has pledged to match all new donations up to $30,000 and we are about 3/4 of the way to that goal. Please consider making a tax-deductible gift soon, either by check or online using the “GIVE” button in this website’s top menu (remember to select ‘Organ Restoration’).  Please help us reach the finish line!

Sept 2022

Restoration of our pipe organ is underway! Some of the air reservoirs have been restored and work on the pipes will begin very soon. Meanwhile, we have good news for our fundraising. A benefactor has pledged to match all new donations up to $30,000. If we receive all that amount in contributions it will take us very near our overall goal. Please consider making a timely donation now while your generosity will be doubled!

May 2022

On April 29th, the A.E. Schlueter Pipe Organ Company completed the last phase of removing the pipes and winding system for our vintage Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ. The two chambers will now be essentially empty while we await completion of the restoration which will take all summer and into the fall. Meanwhile, we have a temporary electronic organ for our use during our Sunday worship services. This represents the achievement of milestone #3 in our restoration progress. If you welcome this good news, we invite you to contribute to the restoration fund by clicking the donation link on this site. All donations are appreciated as we try to complete our fundraising campaign.

March 2022

After months of mostly invisible, behind-the-scenes work planning the details of the organ restoration, the first phase of the physical work finally began on February 28th.  The A.E. Schlueter Pipe Organ Company removed the organ console and the reed pipes to begin the restoration.  They also installed a temporary electronic organ for the church’s use until the pipe organ is ready to be returned.  The remaining pipes, windchests and other components will be removed through the spring.  See the GALLERY tab for videos and pictures of what is going on!  If you would like to help with the restoration, please make a 2022 donation!  Thank you!

October 2021

Let the restoration begin! We will say farewell for now to the organ during the October 24th 11AM Worship service.

September 2021

The church’s Organ Restoration Task Force and A. E. Schlueter Pipe Organ Company have been hard at work developing the detailed plan for the organ’s restoration.  Schlueter presented the church with its proposed precise design of the restored console.  After conducting a thorough evaluation of that plan, the task force approved and signed it on September 29, 2021.  This represents achievement of milestone #2 of 5 in our restoration progress.  It sets the stage for the organ’s removal from the sanctuary in late October.

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.
We would cherish any financial help any of you can offer. A donation by way of a check (please be sure to designate to the organ on the memo line) can be mailed to Druid Hills Presbyterian Church, 1026 Ponce de Leon Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30306. For those of you who prefer the convenience of electronic transactions, we direct you here and designate your gift for the “Organ Restoration.” You are also invited to visit here to read more about our historic pipe organ and see photos.
We honor the heritage that Æeolian-Skinner and designer G. Donald Harrison created for us, and we pledge that the restoration of our historic pipe organ will continue to honor that vision so as to leave a secure and beautiful legacy for those who follow us. We truly appreciate your consideration of this invitation to participate with us.

Members of Druid Hills Presbyterian Church have been instrumental, through their donations, in raising the funds for our organ’s restoration,  But we’ve always known we couldn’t raise all the required funds alone.  That is why we have appealed to the public, especially those in the organ community who have an affinity for Aeolian-Skinner organs, to help us with this endeavor.  Our church hosted a series of concerts to highlight the many features of our treasured organ, with performances by a variety of talented guest artists, where donations were invited and encouraged.  We also successfully applied to charitable foundations for grants.  While we have now reached our basic fundraising goal, we continue to invite contributions to help create an endowment for routine maintenance so we, and you, can continue to experience the organ’s inspiring music for years to come.  Potential donors are reminded that all contributions are tax deductible.  As a convenience, you can easily make an online donation by pressing the red ‘Give’ button at the top of this page.

Our current staff organist and our organ servicing company have been diligent about keeping the organ in good repair within our fiscal constraints and the ability to repair individual aging parts. However, some of the organ components have been faltering with increasing frequency. Some components have actually failed and have either needed to be replaced or are currently not usable. The length of time before a major failure is, of course, not predictable. Continued repair is not our preferred solution. At this time, we want to address the organ’s condition as a whole and completely restore it to its original, completely working condition.
Perhaps you are familiar with some of our organists who have taken great care to maintain the organ and preserve its original integrity ‑ Mabel Stewart Boyter, Willa Lowrance, Jerry Black, Porter Remington, among others, including our current staff organist Cliff Frierson. These talented musicians have been very respectful of the organ and its history, trying to keep it in good repair while honoring the vision of its brilliant designer. For almost 80 years, this remarkable organ has supported not only our church’s worship services but has also been available to the community for weddings and concerts.
Time has taken its toll, however, and the day has come to initiate major maintenance of the organ to implement some much-needed repairs – primarily, completely replacing all leather and aging electrical circuitry, restoring all pipes and windchests, and restoring the organ to its original condition according to known historical documentation. With the church’s commitment to maintaining the instrument, it is poised to continue to be an inspirational musical resource for many years to come.
Druid Hills Presbyterian Church was founded in 1883. When its residential neighborhood gradually transformed into what became part of the urban core of Atlanta and there were fewer nearby residents to support it, the church moved to its current Ponce de Leon Avenue location in the inner northeast quadrant of the city in 1924. We have become a well-known beacon of spiritual support, Christian education and missional outreach ever since. We are a diverse congregation that freely welcomes people from all around the metropolitan area. In addition to hosting weekly worship services and educational classes for all ages, our campus is the home of a well-respected child development center, an associated congregation devoted to homeless and minimally housed neighbors, a food pantry for area residents who are challenged to maintain adequate nutritional support, and the home for several non-profit organizations that share our vision and passion for Christian nurture and support of all God’s children.
Druid Hills Presbyterian Church calls everyone into Christian community to explore God’s purpose for our lives, celebrate God’s work in the world, and serve the needs of our neighbors.