Niagara Gazette — Over the years, accidents occurred, causing damage to the organ. The choir organ on the second floor of the educational wing above the Baptistery was damaged by water in the 1950s. During the 1960s and 1970s the swell chamber on the left side of the sanctuary was also damaged. In 1986, after close to 50 years of service some of the mechanisms were wearing out and the church undertook to restore the instrument. The entire console was rebuilt with new keyboards, switching and stop controls by the Delaware Organ Company of Tonawanda. The main chest (the box that holds the wind and mechanisms) in the swell chamber was replaced and the chimes were refurbished with a new action.
Things really started happening when James D. Flood became the director of music at First Baptist Church in 1988. He began research on the original design through correspondence with Mr. Saxton and further restoration plans were made with several major maintenance items on the list. Flood’s interest developed into other items of repair and rewiring to correct earlier shortcomings and he was assisted by other members of the congregation. Between 1988 and 1996 the organ was restored, rebuilt and significantly enlarged to one of the largest in the county. Regular concerts are held in the church’s Gift of Music concert series. If you visit the website www.niagarafallsbaptist.org you will be listening to “Voluntary in A Major,” by John West, played by Flood on the organ.
We all know building maintenance never ends and work continued with exterior brick restoration and masonry pointing by Ajax-Smith of Tonawanda following a capital campaign in 2011 led by Flood (who is also chairman of the board of trustees) and then Treasurer Paul Einstein. This involved a matching grant from the Sacred Sites program of the New York State Landmark Conservancy and work will be finished this summer. Securing the “historic designation” (local, state and national) back in 2007 assisted in securing funding for this work.