Callanwolde’s Historic Aeolian Organ
Callanwolde’s Great Hall features an Aeolian organ console. The organ, which was specially designed for the house and installed during its construction, was purchased from the Aeolian Pipe Organ Company of New York for approximately $48,200. It’s seven divisions of pipes are contained in four separately constructed chambers strategically located throughout the house. Controlled from the console, the chambers can be utilized simultaneously or separately, permitting selective projection of sound to all major rooms in the mansion. Decorative ornamentation in the ceiling and walls of the mansion conceals these chambers. The most spectacular of these ornamentations, a system of rib vaults elaborated with an intricately designed pierced tracery constructed of pre-cast masonry grillwork, is located in the ceiling above the grand staircase.
Although the instrument is basically an electrically-powered wind pipe organ, it can simulate several different instruments. The organ’s three-manual console is also equipped with a built-in roll player, which uses Aeolian Pipe Organ Rolls, and a Duo-Art cabinet player, which allows several rolls to be played automatically in succession. Like a player piano, these rolls allow the organ to be operated by a person with little or no knowledge of music. A wide variety of music was available in Organ Roll format at the time, from classical works by renowned composers to popular show tunes. However, the organ is a magnificent instrument that was meant to be played by an accomplished organist. In the years during which the Candler’s lived at Callanwolde, recitals were given by some of the world’s finest organists, including Marcel Dupre (the organist for Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris) and Charles Cobourne.
The complete restoration of Callanwolde’s Aeolian organ was the result of the dedication and perserverance of the members of the Callanwolde Guild. The project extended over two decades and involved the efforts of many individuals. An extensive history of this project was compiled by Guild Member, Norma J. Bishop.