William J. Mollema's 4-82 Residence Installation, Scotts, MI

Mollema and Console
Here are some pictures of William Mollema's residence organ. Mr. Mollema was the Wicks Rep. for Western Mich for nearly 30 years and has been involved in organ and theatre organ for most of his life.

What a beautiful organ. We'll tell the story in his own words. Enjoy pictures of this marvelous instrument as you read about it.

From the beginnings of my infatuation with the pipe organ, some 43 years ago at the age of 13; I wanted someday to have an instrument of my own. The 1950ís was a period when it was very difficult for hobbyists to gain access to organs. Theatres (those which still had instruments) were very protective and suspicious of anyone expressing an interest in the organs, and churches always kept their instruments locked up; I presumed at the time because organists must be terribly insecure about their jobs!

During my teen years, my parents put up with a small 9 rank organ in our basement. This organ, which I put together out of scrounged up parts, was not very theatrical, but it did satisfy my needs at the time. Then the college years came along and after that my employment with WICKS as the area representative. During this period in my life, from 1961 through the early 80ís I was fortunate to have access to the organ in a local theatre, which, along with a very close friend and fellow enthusiast, we restored and played regularly.

In 1976 I installed a new instrument in a church which had a very unusual design. The building was basically a cross of two symmetrical, flat topped A frames; and I was struck by the plan and felt that a down-sized version of this design would make a really neat home. More importantly, it would be house that would lend itself to a pipe organ installation. I immediately set out to design my dream home and in the early summer of 1976 began construction after acquiring 20 acres of property in the country on which to build. With the exception of the poured concrete basement walls, I was determined to do all of the building myself. Besides enjoying this type of work, I reasoned that I could better control the quality of the construction and the necessary allowances for my dream instrument. Progress was steady but slow and finally on July 4 of 1978 I moved into the house with only insulation showing on the inside and a sort of operating kitchen and bathroom! Work continue on the house, landscaping and other projects until the late 1980ís; all the while collecting and storing away organ parts for the eventual dream instrument.

Foundation lower level l-r Orch. Sax., L.Flute,Diap., Tuba

Upper Foundation String ( Clarinet and Vox behind)

Main Chamber Back -Front Krumet,Quintadena,VDO Cel,T. Horn,VDO,Post Horn,Vox,Oboe Horn, Tibia, Ophicleide

During this period I began to really formalize a design and specification for the organ so that when actual installation of the instrument began in 1991, I had a firm design and ultimate size fixed in my mind. Procurement of many of the rare and unusual elements of the instrument would make a very interesting story by itself; suffice it to say, many of these materials came my way through a fortunate combination of happenstance and luck.

By the time a specification had been conceived and put down on paper, I realized that I would never find a console of sufficient size with which to control this organ. As a result of this realization, I designed and built my own 4 manual console in my workshop. It was my desire that the console be ďuser friendlyĒ - a console at which both theatre style organists and classic oriented organists could easily feel at home. Although the console is constructed in the theatre style; it can still easily be managed by the classical musician since those stops are grouped together in a standard arrangement rather than being mixed in with the theatre voices. Aside from sharing keyboards and couplers, the arrangement is really like two consoles in one. The triple bolsters and traditional backrail control the theatre instrument; the fourth partial bolster below the full triple bolsters and above the backrail controls the classic instrument. While there are 8 general pistons which control only the classic organ; the regular divisional and general pistons totaling 90 control the entire organís resources.

Positiv Center and right is Positiv pipework, left is Pedal 4' C. Bass and IV Mix

Great and Pedal in front of chambers

Great and Pedal in front of chambers

What I have reated is a 4-36 theatre organ (Acc. Gt. Bomb. Solo) in three chambers (Foundation, Main, Solo) and actually a 4-58 classic instrument (Pos. Gt. Sw. Solo) if you accept the notion that both organs share the Solo divisionís voices! The Swell is the fourth chamber with the Classic Great, Positiv, and Pedal ranks unenclosed in the traditional manner.

What is most important, however, is that the organ is very easy to listen to as it speaks into an acoustically warm room which, because of the open design of the house, is actually the entire first and second floors of the house. While the primary listening area is the 22í X 60í livingroom, the loft bedrooms as well as the study and dining area all play a part in the acoustical setting for the instrument. Even though the ceiling height of the livingroom is 17í, the angular walls create a warm, controlled presence without any cold, barn-like echo.

Great and Pedal in front of chambers

Swell lower level l-r F.Overt, O.Flt, Sal., V.Cel., St. Flute, F.Overt Celeste

Lower Solo right side l-r Musette, Brass Sax., Brass Trum, "Ball Bat" Kinura

Now that I have retired from the business of organ selling, installing, and maintenance; I have once again become a hobbyist and finally have the time to put the finishing touches on this project. Contrary to the opinion of my friends, this instrument WILL be completed in the near future! Because it was conceived as a total design vision, it will not continue to grow. It may change and refine itís personality but it will not grow larger.

As many of the members of ATOS know from their own experience, it is immensely satisfying to create an instrument of any size and then be able to realize the added pleasure of playing it!

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