Traugott Wandke 1863, the first organ built inTexas

At Festival Hill in Round Top Texas

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Wandke organ at Festival Hill

This small 3 stop organ, entirely built from Cedar wood, is the oldest organ that was built in Texas.  It was built in1863 by Traugott Wandke.

 

This organ was probably built as an house organ, or Wandke might have it used for himself. After Wandkes death  it was in the possession of Heinrich Pochmann, great-grandson of Wandke, and was kept in Wandke's stone house in Round Top. When Heinrich Pochmann died, the organ passed to

Edward Wiederaenders of Round Top. Members of the Haben family,

caretakers for the Wiederaenderses, took the organ apart and stored it in

boxes.  After the death of Edward Wiederaenders in 1943, Mrs. Jaster,

daughter of Mr. Wiederaenders, gave it to members of the Franke family.

Edwin H. Franke, now of La Grange, took the dismantled organ to his ranch

in Uvalde, Texas. It was then given to the Reverend Eugene Meier of Knippa,

Texas, for him and his brother Albert to restore it.  Albert Meier did some work

on it before it came into the possession of Otto Hofmann in 1960.

 

The organ completely dismantled and in need of extensive restoration, was given to the Festival Institute at Round Top, Texas. In 1996 Friedemann Buschbeck restored the organ completely and added an electric blower to it. 

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The case height is 1777 mm the keyboard is 842 mm above the floor. The case is 582 mm deep and 1013 mm wide; the moulding adds 42 mm to each dimension. The natural keys extend 47 mm beyond the fronts of the ebony sharps, the lengths of which are 90 mm on the bottom and 85 mm along the tops. The key action in the organ utilizes stickers beneath each key. The wind is supplied through single-rise wedg bellows.

The three ranks of pipes, none given a stop name, have the pitches 8' (stopped), 4' (stopped), and 2'. The pipes, 49 per rank for a total of 147 pipes, are made entirely from cedar except for the top 25 pipes of the 4' rank, which are constructed of maple. The lowest pipe of each rank is inscribed with a date of manufacture. The largest pipe in the organ reads "C1 8 Fuss Ton gemacht den 17 Sept, 1863." The low C of the 4' stop reads "C1 4 Fuss Ton gemacht den ... 1863." The month and date on this pipe are illegible. For the 2' low C, the inscription reads "C1 2 Fuss gemacht den 28ten Jan 1864." The pipes

have the designations "b" and "h" for pitch levels, but the keyboards assign "ais" and "b" to those same pitches.

The dates inscribed on the pipes are earlier than those for the Round Top Church organ. The organ now in New Braunfels is probably the latest of Wandke's organs still in existence. A chronology of the three extant organs, would put this organ first, followed by the Round Top Church organ, with the New Braunfels organ the last one to have been constructed.

 

Text from Gerald D. Frank, “The Life and Work of Johann Traugott Wandke”

Wood screws hand made in Oak
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Traugott Wandke pipes