Niagara Gazette

Features

May 28, 2013

New life for century old church organ in Middleport

Niagara Gazette — For more than 100 years, the organ at Middleport United Methodist Church has accompanied the vocal offerings of the choir and parishioners, and a recent renovation has it spruced up for many years to come.

The original pipe organ was purchased from J.W. Steere and Sons Organ Company in 1907, and was insured for $1,500. The Steere Company, from Springfield, Mass., built church organs and they made some improvements to the MUMC organ in 1916. Organs built in those days were powered by pneumatic pedal action, pumping air through the more than 500 pipes of the magnificent organ.

The Parsons family, longtime MUMC members, have a personal history with the J.W. Steere Co, having a family member who worked for the company in 1906-07. It is entirely possible that their relation worked on the very organ purchased by their church.

The majestic organ inspired a young girl who often dusted the church with her mother. Helen Sheldon dreamed of being able to coax music from those keys and if she did a good job at dusting, she was allowed to play the organ. It was a special dream come true for young Helen. She went away to college, returning to Middleport in 1939. As luck would have it, the church needed an organist, and Helen was overjoyed to be back at the keys and pedals of her beloved organ. She served the church as organist for the next 30 years, until her retirement. When the organ needed repairs, Helen hoped and prayed that they would find the funding. She was baptized at MUMC as a baby and became a member at age 12. Helen is now 99 years young and still loves to hear the beautiful organ at her church.

In 1954, the decision was made by church members to electrify the old pump organ, to spare the expense of purchasing a new electric one.  

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