During Rev. Alvin Smith’s ministry, the choir grew in numbers and everyone hoped we could have a real pipe organ, so with this dream the choir started an organ fund giving concerts. Miss Nina Bonnell, head of music at John Muir School was our choir director. She always had new ideas to keep the choir active with future plans.
By 1940 Arthur Anderson, called Mr. Balcom of Balcom & Vaughn, who built organs, to see if it was possible to buy a rebuilt pipe organ. Mr. Balcom said he had one at a chapel in the north end, The Home Chapel, which Mr. Anderson found out later it had been taken out of a theatre on Greenwood Avenue, some time earlier. The chapel wanted to move the organ and since this could not be done without dismantling, they asked to apply a credit on it upon buying a new organ. This organ was a Hennes pipe organ with a Kimball piano console. Mr. Balcom offered this organ with a new console and relay, piano keyboard, six sets of pipes, the organ rebuilt, delivered and installed at the church for $3,200.00 on contract with one year service. Since the organ was completely rebuilt, it is a “Balcom & Vaughn organ”. On June 29, 1941 the organ was dedicated with Renoldo Baggott as organist. If you will just go back in time, Mr. Baggott was none other than Ron, the team Ron & Don who played on the rising organ at the Paramount Theatre. They were considered the best organists in the Northwest at the time. Special concerts with special organists were booked and played in church. Some were Robert Rank, Robert Smith and Ed Hanson, who has been at Plymouth Church for some time. We may note in the church that a thermometer was posted showing how much was collected from time to time. Soon our dream was realized and the contract was paid in full.
During July of 1891, three more manual sets, one big pedal set, and a 16 foot double open diapason and more pipes were added and the organ was moved. the outside woodwork was redone by Arthur Anderson to match the pews. The cost for this work was $2,200.00 to Balcom and Vaughn for a total of $5,400.00 invested. This cost was no doubt paid from the remodel loan taken out at this time. Ernest Nye was the organist for this dedication. There has been further additions or pipes at least twice, I remember, besides it has been serviced from time to time. Mr Balcom says to replace this good an organ today would cost $48,700.00, so we should realize that after 42 years of service, we still have a fine organ to be proud of.
Footnote: The organ resides in Columbia Congregational Church from 1923 until the merger with Lakewood Community Church in 1993.