Cathedral Announces Funding to Renovate Its Aging Pipe Organ
WASHINGTON – Washington National Cathedral announced today that its landmark pipe organ will be renovated after several Cathedral community members gave transformative gifts totaling $12.5 million. Connecticut-based Foley-Baker, which previously restored many of America’s greatest organs, including at Duke University Chapel, The First Church of Christ, Scientist in Boston, and Boston Symphony Hall, has signed a contract to revitalize the historic instrument.
Work on the $14 million organ project is set to begin in January 2024, and renovation is estimated to end in 2028. Funds raised to date will go toward the organ itself, as well as needed upgrades to lighting, safety and mechanical infrastructure. Cathedral leaders are seeking to raise the remaining $1.5 million needed to fully fund the organ project in the coming months.
The great organ’s renovation is one of several initiatives funded through the Cathedral’s “A Cathedral for the Future” campaign, which seeks to raise $150 million in support of the Cathedral’s core mission programs and to address pressing capital needs, including the completion of repairs after the 2011 earthquake and the opening of the renovated Virginia Mae Center. To date, the Cathedral for the Future campaign has raised $131 million of its $150 million goal.
“As the Cathedral moves into our next century of mission, we need an instrument that can grow and expand with us,” said the Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, dean of Washington National Cathedral. “With these transformative gifts from Cathedral donors, we can ensure this magnificent instrument continues to inspire and uplift worshipers and visitors alike for generations to come.”
Originally installed in 1938 by the Ernest M. Skinner and Son Organ Co., the organ was originally designed when the Cathedral was only one-third complete. In the decades since, it has undergone various expansions, patches, retrofits and rebuilds to facilitate its use across more than 30,000 Cathedral services. However, after experiencing natural wear and tear over 85 years, at least a quarter of the organ is no longer functioning, and it no longer speaks with a coherent voice into the Cathedral’s larger, completed space.
The renovation will restore the instrument after nearly a century of service while maintaining key historical elements of the organ and seamlessly integrating newer parts. The new additions to the organ will be handcrafted and robust and will produce a more supportive, warmer sound.
“The renovation is a transformative investment in our music program and is critical to preserving the Cathedral’s rich musical heritage,” said Thomas Sheehan, the Cathedral’s Organist and Associate Director of Music. “The organ is the musical backbone of national services, daily worship and imaginative concerts. We are thrilled that this grand instrument will be restored and expanded for its next century of service to God’s people.”
Eleanor Donohue, [email protected]; 202-704-5840,
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Grounded in the reconciling love of Jesus Christ, Washington National Cathedral is a house of prayer for all people, conceived by our founders to serve as a great church for national purposes.