Chapel Organ Project
Summerall Chapel was built in 1936, and at the time of its construction, a 34-rank pipe organ was designed to be worthy of the new magnificent construction. In 1949, six ranks of pipes were added to the organ, and in 1960, a new four-manual console was built. Retaining thirty-six of the existing ranks, 28 new ranks of pipes were added in 1965, making the organ complete with 64 total ranks.
That magnificent organ lasted almost 50 years, and was last played in 1985. An electronic organ was rented for two years while preparations were made to rebuild the pipe organ. Funds were not available, so the decision was made to purchase the electronic organ. As an electronic organ has a useful life span of approximately 20-25 years, the decision was made in 2004 to restore the pipe organ to its original grandeur. Several members of the class of 1963 undertook the effort to get this project started. In 2004, several organ companies were interviewed, and one stood out for its interest in the Summerall Chapel organ, and for organs that they have built and rebuilt. That company – Cornell Zimmer Organ Builders -- located in North Carolina was selected to restore the Summerall Chapel Organ.
Restoration of the organ began in earnest in July 2014 with the removal of all pipes from the north and south pipes chambers and the restoration process planned in three phases. Included in Phase 1 was the removal of the pipes, construction and installation of the new console and speaker system. Phases 2 was completed in March 2017, and phase 3 will be completed later this summer. Phase 4, 5, & 6 will be completed as donations allow. The phases and costs for the project are as follows:
Phase 1: Console replacement ($325,000) completed March 2015
Phase 2: Trumpet Militaire ($100,000) completed March 2017 (two private donors)
Phase 3: Choir division pipe/windchest restoration in North Chamber ($200,000) Summer 2018
Phase 4: Great/Pedal pipe/windchest restoration in North Chamber ($200,000)
Phase 5: Swell division pipe/windchest restoration in South Chamber ($250,000)
Phase 6: Solo division pipe/windchest vintage/new in South Chamber ($250,000)
Once completed the Summerall Chapel Organ will have over 100 ranks making it the largest pipe organ in Charleston (right now the largest is at First Scots Presbyterian with 71 ranks). The newly renovated organ will support the programs at The Citadel for many years to come to include our chapel services, weddings, the very popular Candlelight Christmas Program, as well as special events such as the Spoleto Festival, etc.
For many of our alumni, the beginning of their growth as leaders began with attending services in Summerall Chapel and the sounds of the organ in that magnificent structure. At their January 2015 meeting, the Board of Visitors, approved a proposal to add additional recognition for top donors to this project on the south transept wall of the chapel. This signage will complement the existing recognition piece, in this same location, listing major donors to the original organ project from the 1960s. Those who donate $15,000 or more to the organ restoration and wish to be named will be recognized by their name on this piece.
Many thanks to Colonel Mark Bebensee and Mr. Mackay Salley, Citadel `63 for their background and history of the Summerall Chapel Organ and Restoration Project. For more information on this project, to include testimonials and to hear the new console, as well as an update on funds raised so far and a list of donors, OR to make a donation to this project, please visit:http://foundation.citadel.edu/chapelorgan.