Massey Organ Keyboard, Control Desk To Be Repaired

The control desk of the 1907 Massey Memorial Organ at Chautauqua Institution has sustained water damage due to melting snow and ice, however, the other parts of the organ remain unharmed. Pictured is the Chautauqua Institution Amphitheater, where the organ is housed. P-J photo by Katrina Fuller

The Massey Memorial Organ control desk will undergo the reparation process soon, according to Chautauqua Institution officials.

The institution reported Friday that the control desk or console of the organ, which is the wooden part of the organ system containing the keys and stops the organist plays, was found to be damaged during a routine inspection in late January. The ivory keyboards and pistons and drawknob stop controls were found to have extensive damage.

The Massey Memorial Organ is the largest of four outdoor pipe organs in the world.

Emily Morris, Chautauqua Institution vice president of Marketing and Communications, said the console has been packed up to be shipped out for repairs. The keyboards will be restored in England, while the rest of the console will be shipped to Texas to be looked over by a company overseen by Mark Fisher called C. Bobsin Organs. Fisher and his father, Paul, originally restored the organ in the 1990s and have been involved in its care since that time.

Morris said it is important the public knows the pipes and the essential parts of the systems contained inside the organ chamber was unaffected by the melting ice and snow. Currently, Chautauqua staff members and building and design contractors are looking into what caused the leak that damaged the console.

“We don’t have that answer at this time,” she said. “We are really grateful we have the maintenance protocol that allowed it to be discovered when it did.”

Morris said the organ will be ready for the upcoming season which begins on June 23. The reason the institution let patrons know of the issue, she said, is because it is such a treasured part of Chautauqua that it is “like a part of the family.” She said those who are interested can stay up to date by visiting