Historic Massey Organ at Chautauqua Institution Damaged in Snow - Erie News Now | WICU & WSEE in Erie, PA

Historic Massey Organ at Chautauqua Institution Damaged in Snow Melt

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Chautauqua organ damaged by amphitheater leak Chautauqua organ damaged by amphitheater leak

A leak caused by ice and snow melting at the new Chautauqua Institution amphitheater resulted in some damage to the ivory keyboards, stops and console of the Massey Memorial Organ. 

News about the damaged organ came to Chautauquans in a letter sent out Friday from President Michael Hill.  He said the 1907 Massey organ is considered a centerpiece for many families.  He assured them that efforts are underway to repair the organ console.

In the letter, Hill called the threat to such a resource "troubling," but said, "thankfully the pipework, and the essential systems of the organ were not affected."

The organ was stored backstage for the winter under a protective but not waterproof covering, so melting snow got through the covering and into the console and its four keyboards.

Fischer Organ Company of Erie, which led the restoration of the organ in the 1990's is consulting on the repairs and making plans to have the organ console restored and fully functional by the state of the 2018 summer season.  They are working with longtime Chautauqua Institution organist Jared Jacobsen.

Chautauqua personnel, in consultation with building and design contractors are investigating the cause of the leak and plan to implement solutions and electronic monitoring and inspection protocols to prevent damage from happening again or elsewhere in the facilities.

The costs for the restoration have not been determined as yet.  Chautauqua officials say they will be covered by a combination of insurance and the capital maintenance budget of the Institution.

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