The Wanamaker Grand Court Organ

    The organ built for the Saint Louis World's Fair of 1904 in Saint Louis, Missouri, is the core of the actual Wanamaker Organ. It was, by then, the world's largest organ ever built.

    It was designed by organ architect George Ashdown Audsley for a new Kansas City convention hall, as Opus 35 by the Murray M. Harris Organ Company. The organ was a speculative venture from the very start, built by a businessman who, though a fine organ craftsman, thrived on speculation. Harris pulled out all the stops, investing the best in materials and workmanship, plus practically the full ressources of his company. Soon, tremendous costs overruns caught everyone off guard, and the investors ousted Harris in Agust 1903.

    William Boone Fleming, Harris's superintendant and director, oversaw the reorganized enterprise, which was renamed the Los Angeles Art Organ Company. With a new investment, the organ is eventually completed, but the extra cost (expected: $ 67,000, realized: $ 105,000) leave the company bloodless. The Kansas City also deny the installation of the organ due to the bankruptcy of the company. This is where Wanamaker appears...

    Here's the original specification :

32 Sub-principal metal
16 Double Open Diapason metal
16 Contra-Gamba metal
10 2/3 Sub-Quint wood
8 Grand Principal metal
8 Open Diapason, Major metal
8 Open Diapason, Minor metal
8 Open Diapason wood
8 Grand Flute wood
8 Doppelflote wood
8 Gamba pur tin
4 Octave, Major métal
4 Gambette métal
enclosed (box n°1)
8 Großgedeckt wood
8 Harmonic Flute metal
5 1/3 Quint metal
4 Octave, Minor metal
3 1/5 Tierce metal
2 2/3 Octave Quint metal
2 Super Octave metal
  Grand Cornet IV metal
1 3/5
      Seventeenth metal
1 1/3
      Nineteenth metal   
1 1/7
      Septieme metal
      Twenty-second metal
  Grand Mixture VII metal
16 Double Trumpet metal
8 Harmonic Trumpet metal
4 Harmonic Clarion metal
Choir sur Great 16, 8, 4
Swell I sur Great 8
Swell II sur Great 8

Solo sur Great 8, 4

Echo sur Great 8

    "The first subdivision of the Great is entirely unexpressive, and contains all the foundation stops and diapason work of the Organ proper, from the sub-principal 32" in the facade.

    "The second subdivision is expressive. It contains the stops belonging to the 16' and 8' harmonic structure, and the three important reed stops of the division. It is commanded when desired by the double touch of the clavier."

enclosed (box n°1)
16 Double Dulciana metal
8 Open Diapason metal
8 Geigenprincipal metal
8 Salicional pur tin
8 Keraulophone metal
8 Dulciana metal
8 Vox Angelica metal
8 Vox Celestis metal
8 Quintadena metal
8 Stopped Diapason ["Gedeckt"] wood
8 Concert Flute wood
4 Flauto d'Amore wood/metal
4 Salicet pur tin
2 Piccolo metal
  Dulciana Cornet VI metal
16 Contra-Saxophone metal
8 Saxophone wood
8 Corno Inglese (free reed Laukhuff) metal
4 Musette (free reed Laukhuff) metal
  Carillon (Tubular bells) metal
  Tremblant 1  
Swell I sur Choir 8
Swell II sur Choir 8

Solo sur Great 8

Echo sur Great 8, 4

    "The Choir organ contains 20 stops, comprising very quality and strengh of tone required for refined and varied accompaniment. The reed stops are constructed with free tongues, giving a singular smoothness and sweetness to their tone, as well as individuality" (Corno Inglese 8 and Musette 4 made by Laukhuff, Germany).

enclosed (box n°2)
16 Lieblichgedeckt wood
8 Horn Diapason metal
8 Violon Diapason metal
8 Grossflöte wood
8 Clarabella wood
8 Doppelrohrgedeckt wood
8 Melodia wood
8 Harmonique Flute metal
8 Dolce metal
5 1/3 Gedeckt Quint metal
4 Octave metal
4 Harmonique Flute metal
2 Harmonique Piccolo metal
  Full Mixture VI wood/metal
16 Contrafagotto bois
16 Contra-Oboe metal
8 Fagotto wood/metal
8 Orchestral Oboe metal
8 Clarinet metal
8 Corno di Bassetto metal
8 Horn metal
8 Vox Humana II wood/metal
4 Octave Oboe metal
  Tremblant 2  
  Solo sur Swell I  
  Echo sur Swell I  

    "In this first subdivision are grouped all the stops which represent the wood-wind instruments of the orchestra."

enclosed (box n°3)
16 Contra-Basso wood
8 Violoncello pur tin
8 Viola pur tin
8 Violino pur tin
8 Violino (#) pur tin
8 Tiercena pur tin
5 1/3 Quint Viol pur tin
4 Octave Viol pur tin
4 Violette pur tin
  Viol Cornet IV  
2 2/3
      Viol (muted) pur tin
      Viol (muted) pur tin
1 1/3
      Viol (muted) pur tin
      Viol (muted) pur tin
  Corroborating Mixture V pur tin
  Tremblant 3  
  Solo sur Swell I  
  Echo sur Swell I  

    "The second subdivision had no counterpart in any organ ever built. It contains imitative sub-octave, unison and harmonic-corroborating stops, every one of which is of string-tone. This remarkable subdivision is enclosed in an independant swell box and can be brought on or thrown off the third clavier by thumb pistons ; and is also connected with the clavier by the double touch of the Swell organ."

enclosed (box n°4)
16 Double Open Diapason metal
8 Flûte à Pavillon metal
8 Stentorphone metal
8 Grossgambe pur tin
8 Grossflote wood
8 Doppeloffenflote wood
8 Orchestral Flute wood
4 Harmonic Flute metal
4 Octave metal
  Grand Cornet IV, V, VI metal
16 Bass Trombone metal
16 Bass Tuba metal
8 Trombone metal
8 Ophicléide metal
8 Orchestral Trumpet metal
8 Orchestral Clarinet II metal
    '-->(doubled with Doppleflöte) wood
4 Harmonic Clarion metal
Tremblant 4
Echo sur Solo 8

    "The Solo organ is, as its name implies, devoted to the imitative solo stops ; while it also represents the brass-wind division of the orchestra. The stops alluded to speak on wind of 7, 10 and 20 inches pressure. Here the inartistic and absurd practice of leaving the high-pressure reed stops outside the swell box, and, accordingly, devoir of flexibility and powers of expression, is for the first time done away with in a concert organ of the first class."

enclosed (box n°5)
16 Stillgedeckt wood
8 Echo Diapason metal
8 Nachthorn metal
8 Spitzflote metal
8 Viola d'Amore metal
8 Harmonica wood
8 Unda Maris metal
4 Flauto d'Amore wood
4 Gemshorn metal
  Echo Cornet V metal
8 Echo Trumpet metal
8 Vox Humana II metal
        '-->(doubled with Melodia) wood

    "The Echo organ contains 12 stops, chiefly of delicate intonation, suitable for distant and echo effects, to which is added a Vox Humana, of two ranks and unique construction." The Echo organ is practically an independant section, and is located about 300 feet from the main organ.

64 Gravissima (resultant) wood
32 Double Open Diapason (Great) metal
32 Double Open Diapason wood
32 Contra-Bourdon * wood
16 Open Diapason wood
16 Open Diapason metal
16 Violone * metal
16 Gamba metal
16 Dulciana (Choir) metal
16 Bourdon * wood
16 Lieblichgedeckt (Swell) wood
16 Contraflauto wood
16 Quintaten * wood
10 2/3 Quint wood
8 Octave metal
8 Dolce * metal
8 Violoncello * metal
8 Bass Flute wood
8 Weitgedeckt * wood
4 Super-Octave * metal
4 Offenflöte * wood
  Compensating Mixture VI  
      Super-Octave (32 notes) metal
3 1/5
      Tierce (27 notes) metal   
2 2/3
      Octave-Quinte (24 notes) metal
      Twenty-Second (20 notes) metal   
1 1/3
      Twenty-Sixth (17 notes) metal
      Twenty-Ninth (13 notes) metal
32 Contra-Bombarde wood
16 Bombarde * metal
16 Contra-Posaune * metal
16 Contrafagotto (Swell) wood
16 Euphonium (free reed Laukhuff) * metal
8 Tromba * metal
8 Fagotto * metal
4 Clarion * metal
  Great I sur Pedal  
  Great II sur Pedal  
  Choir sur Pedal  
  Swell I sur Pedal  
  Swell II sur Pedal  
  Solo sur Pedal  
  Echo sur Pedal  

      "The Pedal organ is the largest and the most complete ever constructed. It is provided with all the leading varieties of inimitative and imitative tone, and is, accordingly, capable of furnishing appropriate basses for all the classes of manual combinations. Its tones range from that of the Dulciana to that of the full strength of the department of 30 stops."
All the stops marked * should have been enclosed but this never happened.


Sources :

  • The largest organ in the world, George Ashdown Audsley
  • Tha American Organist, "The history of the Wanamaker Organs part one", September 1988, Raymond Biswanger
  • Scientific American, "The greatest of pipe organs", April 23, 1904, Helen Lukens Jones
  • George Ashdown Audsley, 1995, David H. Fox

  organ 1904