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James Robertson | all galleries >> Long Island >> Winfield Hall > Winfield Hall, Glen Cove
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Winfield Hall, Glen Cove
13-JUN-2008

Winfield Hall, Glen Cove

This organ is located in an alcove behind a carved wooden screen on the east side of the Grand Ballroom.
I was told that it was the largest pipe organ in a private home in the U.S.


other sizes: small medium large
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Beachboy 07-Jan-2014 04:15
Thank you, Keith, for your comments!! I saw this organ as a child in the 1950s, when Mrs. Reynolds still lived at Winfield Hall. IIRC it was not playing, but I was allowed to sit on the bench and ogle the keys, stops, and controls. My Dad knew her husband, Richard S. Reynolds.

Winfield Hall has the third-largest residence organ built by Aeolian -- you are correct in writing that the largest is at Longwood Gardens. The second-largest (partially destroyed by fire) was 130+ ranks at the Eastman Mansion, a stately home in Rochester NY that is now a museum. The interesting fact about Mr. Woolworth's organ is that he was one of the few wealthy men who owned a residence organ - and could actually play it!! You might want to read more details in Rollin Smith's forthcoming book "Pipe Organs of the Rich and Famous".
KMeith Thompson 08-Aug-2013 09:03
Yet another comment about the Aeolian residence organ. Aeolian was the Rolls-Royce of organs that could be played by an organist or be used as a player organ, not unlike the player piano but a great deal more complex. There are still rolls that exist of some of the great organists at this time of opulence. Organs in the homes of the wealthy were simply considered de rigeur. For example, Mr. Eastman (of Eastman Kodak) employed Harold Gleason (who also taught organ at Eastman School of Music) to come in an play at breakfast time (about 30 minutes -- this fact might need checking), and then again in the evening (I'm unsure as to whether it was before, during or after dinner). Nonetheless, the wealthy considered this a necessity to bring the finer things of life to their homes. The Vanderbilt homes had pipe organs, there was supposed to be a pipe organ in the Carolands Chateau in Hillsborough, CA. There had also been a significant player organ in a private home in Bethesda, MD. These instruments were not rare during this period but have become rare as new owners would have no appreciation or commitment to this type of cultural indulgence and would not want to employ both an organist and a maintenance technician, both of which would have to be staff positions. These organs were usually of far more dulcet quality of sound and even a large instrument would be voiced so as to not be abrasive or overwhelming. Many of these instruments were either sold for parts or simply had all of the pipe metal sold for salvage and melted down, and then used the wood parts of the organ for firewood. These were not theater organs nor were they church organs. They fell in a gray area in between these two extremes. They elicit a sound of a far more velvety and refined quality than any other types of organ would possess. I hope that this explanation is somewhat clear or helpful to a novice who might know little or nothing about the nature of residence organs of this period.
Keith Thompson 08-Aug-2013 08:48
A correction to the statement about the organ. It is a well-documented fact that the largest residence pipe organ in America is at Longwood Gardens, home of Industrialist Pierre DuPont. The organ is a 147-rank Aeolian built in 1927. Now if there is a technicality in terms of where the organ at Longwood Gardens is located (which is considered the ballroom adjacent to the 3-acre enclosed gardens). But Mr. DuPont very much considered it, as did the Aeolian Organ Company, a residence organ even though it was not actually in Mr. DuPont's house where he maintained his usual daily activities. It is a truly magnificent organ and one that is in nearly perfect restoration and maintained very well -- an interesting look at a real organ that has not had any additions since it was built. And even so, there is still yet a slightly larger organ in the San Francisco home of Dr. William Armstrong. Purists might write it off as inadequate since it is a hybrid instrument (part winded, part non-winded). Nonetheless, it is also a magnificent instrument of note.