Trenton War Memorial
3/16 Möller Theatre Organ
Trenton,  NJ



Click for a larger image -Trenton War Memorial Möller Theatre Pipe Organ June 25, 2006
Trenton War Memorial Möller Theatre Pipe Organ
Photo: Tony Rustako June 25, 2006
Note: Sometimes Möller is also spelled Moller or can appear in print as a "Moller Theatre Organ" or "Moller Theater Organ"

History of the Organ

The instrument in the Trenton War Memorial is a 3 manual, 16 rank Möller Theatre Pipe Organ. Although residing in Trenton since 1928, it was originally housed in the Lincoln Theatre, a few blocks from its current location. The owners of the Lincoln Theatre building - The National State Bank - expressed concern for the organ's survival when it became obvious that the theatre was doomed in 1974.

Determined to save the instrument for the citizens of Trenton, Mrs. Mary G. Roebling, Chairman of the Board, and Mr. W. Emlen Roosevelt, President and Chief Executive Officer of the National State Bank eagerly sought a new home for the organ. Eventually eyes were cast towards the 1800 seat War Memorial Auditorium and its empty organ chambers. The War Memorial Building Commission, John E. Curry, then President, made funds available and work started.

On Memorial Day weekend, 1974, fifteen volunteers from the Garden State Theatre Organ Society, under the direction of W. McKissock, Jr., began to dismantle and move the instrument. This was no small task, considering there are more than 1200 pipes, plus a xylophone, marimba, celeste harp, orchestra bells, chimes, cymbals, drums and other percussion instruments, together with a large blower, wind chests, reservoirs, and console.

For the next year and a half, volunteer Garden State Theatre Organ Society members spent forty to fifty hours per week repairing and installing the instrument. Every part had to be disassembled, cleaned, and rebuilt. Mr. McKissock designed a solid-state relay system containing 1600 transistors to replace the original bulky control system, and GSTOS members built it. The building's maintenance crew installed the wind lines and swell shades. The console also required a complete overhaul. The War Memorial and people of Trenton, and Mercer County then had an instrument that could last at least another 100 years.

In February 1976 a magnificent dedicatory concert with Ashley Miller at the console and all 1800 seats filled, completing the dream of installing the organ. Over the following eighteen years, the organ was presented an average of five times annually in solo concerts and also used with numerous orchestras, choruses and events.

Special credit is given to Charlie Balogh, Bill Hartig, and to our first crew chief Bill McKissock and his dedicated crew. Bill Smith then became crew chief in 1983 and held that position for twenty years until 2003. The last concert of our original Trenton Series was held on March 1994 with Ralph Ringstad Jr., the featured artist.

The War Memorial, now owned by the State of New Jersey, was closed during the summer of 1994 through 1998 for major renovations with improvements to the stage equipment, refurbishment of the auditorium and lobby, upgrading of the acoustics, and organ modifications.

During this almost 5 year down time, the Möller console suffered from storage in an unheated trailer and the chambers, despite efforts to avoid it, were exposed to the dust, dirt, and damage caused by contractor work crews. As the building was readied for reopening, Crew Chief Bill Smith and his crew made a concerted effort to bring the Möller back to life. The chambers were cleaned and numerous problems fixed. The console was refinished and re-gilded, and a modern electronic relay was installed to make the console moveable. Problems were encountered with wind pressure, and tuning stability.

Jelani Eddington performed the organ's rededication concert in February of 2002. Concerts by Lew Williams and Candi Carley Roth were also presented that year. Based on these experiences, it was decided that the organ needed continuing renovations in order to again make it reliable as a concert instrument. Work started toward this goal and is nearly completed under the direction of Crew Chief Jason Taylor, who took over that position in 2003.

The major air reservoirs have been rebuilt; the keyboards have been rebuilt and recovered. The number of pistons has been dramatically increased. A roll cymbal has been installed, and a sostenuto switch added to allow an artist to sustain certain notes and chords, while playing counterpoint against them.

The original blower for the organ was inefficient at dissipating heat. The right chamber temperature would climb from a norm of low 70's and reach the high 80's after an hour of operation, creating havoc with the right side tuning. Early in 2005, a 15 horsepower Spencer blower was located and installed. This is of sufficient size to fully power both sides of the organ without overheating the air.

Four ranks of reed pipes, also from the organ's right side, had always been unstable in tuning. They were sent out to be professionally rebuilt and were reinstalled in August 2005.
The organ began its new concert series in early 2006.

Sources:

The War Memorial

The Great War was long over when ground was broken on July 17, 1930 for the Soldiers and Sailors War Memorial. In 1924, the Mayor of Trenton appointed a citizens' group to begin planning a suitable memorial for the many who served their country during the great war. Three years later the War Memorial Committee recommended a design for a court of honor leading to a grand auditorium, "a memorial that would combine beauty, dignity, and civic utility."

As the design's scope became known, what had been a city project attracted wider support. The state donated two parcels of land and the announced its willingness to put up one-quarter of the total cost. Mercer County agreed to match that figure once the War Memorial Committee had raised $400,000 in contributions from the public. Even before a local campaign could be organized, new Jersey's schoolchildren contributed a fund of pennies intended for a state war memorial. A plaque in the marble floor of the Memorial Court pays tribute to their $87,000 gift.

Both houses of the legislature gathered at the War Memorial on January 12, 1988 for then Governor Thomas Kean's State of the State address and heard a preface they hadn't expected. As he looked over the faded auditorium, the Governor proposed that New Jersey restore it to it's original splendor.
-- from CD Liner notes from "One of A Kind" - based on original text by Sally Lane

The Organ
3/16 Möller Opus 5198

Trenton Main Chamber
Photo: Paul Jacyk

Trenton Solo Chamber
Photo: Paul Jacyk

Left Chamber

Front: Vox Humana

Back L to R: Post Horn, Diaphonic Diapason, Viole d'Orchestre, + 2 Viole Celestes, Orchestral Flute

Right Chamber

L to R: Clarinet, Viole D'Amore, Horn Diapason, Kinura, Tuba Harmonic, French Trumpet, Horn

16 string upper portion of picture, Tibia Plena off picture to right and left.

Full stop list (PDF) - August 14, 2005

Left  Chamber 
16'    Diaphone    85 pipes
16'    Tibia Clausa    97 pipes
16'    Bourdon\Orchestral Flute  97 pipes
8'    Post Horn    73 pipes
8'    Viole d'Orchestre 85 pipes
8'    Viole Celeste (dbl rank) 170 pipes (separate magnets for each pipe)
8'    Vox Humana    73 pipes
4'    Marimba    49 bars
4'    Harp Celeste    49 bars
 
Right  Chamber 
16'   Tibia Plena    85 pipes
16'   Viole D'Amore    97 pipes
16'   Tuba Harmonic    85 pipes
8'    Horn Diapason    85 pipes
8'    French Trumpet    73 pipes
8'    Kinura     73 pipes
8'    Horn    73 pipes
8'    Clarinet 73 pipes
Orchestral Bells 37 bars
Xylophone    49 bars
Chimes 20 tubes

Snare Drum
Snare Drum Roll
Chinese Block
Chinese Block reit.
Tom Tom
Castanets
Slap Stick
Cymbal
Bird Call (2)
Ford Horn
Siren
Door Bell
Steam Boat Whistle
Wind
Thunder
Cymbal Crash
Gong
Triangle

Recordings

Ashley Miller at the War Memorial 
Re-release Midnight Productions

Ashley Miller at the War Memorial
Photo: With permission from Midnight Productions
One of a Kind
Ralph Ringstad Jr.& Maria Zito-Kaufman
Midnight Productions
Ralph Ringstad
Photo: With permission from Midnight Productions

Note: Since Möller is not a  common search term used, we put the words Moller and "Moller Theatre Organ" or "Moller Theater Organ" here, otherwise known as a "Moller Organ".