The Organ History of First Evangelical Lutheran Church

First Organist, Swan Youngquist & wife, Gustafia
First Organist, Swan Youngquist & wife, Gustafia

In the mid-1860’s the Swedish immigrants in Campello met at the corner of Tremont and Main Streets in Drake’s Tavern just south of where we gather today for their simple services of worship. Their singing was accompanied by the thin tones of a small melodeon built by Isaac T. Packard & Co in North Bridgewater. The first organist was the owner of the melodeon, Swan Ljungquist (Youngquist). That instrument was presented to the congregation in 1907 by his son, Mr. Frank Youngquist, and is today displayed in the Froeberg parlor.

  • In 1870 when the congregation built their first house of worship they used a rented organ, the first recorded payment to an organist appears in the church records of 1871.
  • In 1874 a reed organ, manufactured by the A. B. Marston Company of Campello, was purchased with $500.00 donated by several individuals who had a love of music. Unfortunately no one locally could be found with the ability to play this instrument and a gentleman, Mr. Osborn, of Boston was hired to play.
  • In 1891 the congregation purchased a pipe organ for the cost of $1,800.00 and Elsa Lothner was hired as the organist at a salary of $250.00 per year. In 1897 the parish donated the old reed organ to the Lutheran congregation in North Easton.
  • When the church building was razed in 1922 to make way for the present edifice, the organ was sold to the Universalist Church in Abington for $500.00.
  • In 1923 a Möller 3 manual pipe organ was installed in the new building at a cost of $14,000.00. At the time the organ builder wanted to install much of the instrument where the organ is located today, however, the architect vehemently disagreed and wrote to Pastor Froeberg “I have no words strong enough to express my conviction that the placing of any part of the organ at the end of the interior would completely destroy the churchly effect of it…a background of organ pipes would be extremely unsightly…I hope that you will not consider the blocking up of the nave with pipes…” The pleadings of the architect, Charles Coveney, prevailed and the organ was placed to the left of the altar and in the organ chamber cantilevering out into the choir loft. This design was ultimately the cause of the ruination of the instrument; it was packed so tightly into the chamber that much of it was inaccessible for repair and maintenance. By the early 1960’s much of the organ was unplayable.
  • At the annual meeting of the congregation in 1965 it was voted to purchase a new organ and to hold a three year appeals drive to fund the project. The Schantz Organ Company of Orrville, Ohio was chosen to build the organ for a cost of $42,500.00. The goal of the fund drive was $50,000.00 and was oversubscribed with gifts totaling nearly $57,000.00. The dedication of Schantz Opus 824 took place on Sunday afternoon, February 25, 1968.

Members of the Organ Committee (1965-1967)

Miss Mildred Ahlgren
Mrs. Roger W. Anderson
Mr. George V. Hollertz, Jr.
Miss Beda Meyer, Treasurer
Mr. George A. Moberg
Mr. Paul L. Ohman
Mr. Herbert C. Otterberg, Chairman
Mr. Edwin A. Pearson
Mr. Roger C. Peterson
Miss Helen M. Salander
Mr. Harold Sigren
Mr. Walter L. Wells, Sr.

  • In 2008 the congregation voted to have the organ removed from the church and shipped back to the Schantz factory in Orrville, Ohio to be completely rebuilt and equipped with the latest in pipe organ technology. The rebuilt instrument was rededicated on February 1, 2009.

Organists of First Lutheran Church

Swan Ljungquist (Youngquist) (1867-1870)
Otto Magnus Thulen (1873)
Mr. Osborn (1874-1877)
Ida Larson (1879)
Linda Petterson (1879)
Ida Swanson Bökman (1880-1889)
Hilda Borges (1890-1892)
Elsa Lothner (1892-1896)
Thelander Nelson (1896-1899)
George Shaul (1900)
Laura Anderson (1900)
Gustaf Lofgren (1902-1905)
G. Sumner French (1907-1909)
Ruth Russell (1910-1912)
Selma Staff (1912-1913)
Erik R. Kihlmark (1914-1919), (1920-1924)
Harold Sjolander (1919-1920)
Edith Liedman (1924-1932)
Esther Anderson (1926-1932) (assistant)
Edith Lawson (1932-1934)
Edith Hollertz Anderson (1934-1938)
A. Laverne Gustafson Ekberg (1938-1948)
Frances Lowe Blanchard (1952-1953)
Carl Bertram Swanson (1953 -1960)
Eleanor Lundquist (1960-1961)
Hope E. Mehaffey (1961-2014)
David Burnham (2014 –    )

Note:  Some of the early organists may have served longer than the dates indicated; dates shown are based on extant church records.

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