Cover Feature

January 4, 2017

President and Tonal Director, Parkey OrganBuilders

Parkey OrganBuilders, 

Norcross, Georgia

Opus 16

First United Methodist Church, Dalton, Georgia

First United Methodist Church of Dalton, Georgia, has been a long time client of Parkey OrganBuilders. In the years leading up to the sanctuary renovation, we had the privilege of working with Peter Infanger, the church’s music director and organist, in the care of the church’s pipe organ. Dalton First United Methodist has a long-standing reputation of excellent music, and many years were spent planning the renovation of the sanctuary to support this fine music program.

In the early 1990s the church increased the facility to add a new fellowship hall, kitchen, and a new chapel. During that growth phase, the church added an extension to the main sanctuary with plans to expand the choir space. The choir programs have grown over the years, and the choir loft space, which was located between the two organ chambers at the time, drastically hindered growth and expansion of the choir. Peter Infanger worked with the Trustees and building committee to highlight the need and benefits of expanding the choir loft. The space limitations, coupled with the very dated appearance of the 1950s sanctuary, led to the renovation that began in 2014. Many ideas were discussed, and other organ builders were interviewed. Ultimately the organ committee voted unanimously to award the contract for the organ to our firm.

With the need to enlarge the choir space, we recommended moving the organ from side chambers and an exposed division to a much more traditional chambered installation with case and façades. The organ committee agreed with our recommendations. The renovation committee also responded favorably to the recommendation of improved acoustics aided by reflective surfaces and hardwood and tile floors where possible.  

Just before the renovation began, Peter Infanger announced his retirement. Much of the groundwork had been carefully put in place by him. During the interim period, John Wigal of Chattanooga, Tennessee, was selected as the organ consultant to guide the organ committee through the remaining planning process. In mid 2015, Jeff Harbin was selected as the new music director and organist.

Mr. Harbin has worked closely with our firm to bring this project to completion. His input has been valuable and very helpful.  

The organ contains pipework from the previous instrument with new pipework for additions and changes. The final specification comprises 50 ranks over 48 speaking stops. The organ has been designed as a support for service playing and hymns under Jeff Harbin’s guidance.

The configuration of the instrument places the organ on the central axis of the room to provide direct tonal egress to the sanctuary. The organ contains two freestanding expression enclosures of our standard design for the Choir and Swell divisions. The Pedal division is behind the left façade, with the Swell division located immediately behind it. The unenclosed Great is located behind the right façade, and the Choir is placed behind the Great. The façade is composed of the Pedal 16 Principal, Pedal 8 Octave, and Great 8 Principal basses.

The new organ is placed on electro-pneumatic slider windchests with limited unified and duplex stops on electro-pneumatic unit windchests. Winding was provided via single-rise reservoirs with tunable concussion winkers. The new windchests have greatly improved wind supply for the organ pipes, allowing our staff to voice for a warm, rich chorus. The stratospheric mixture complement was revised. The Scharf originally located in the Swell was relocated to the Choir. A new IV Plein Jeu was installed in the Swell.  

Our choice and design for slider windchests and single-rise reservoirs impart a clarity, promptness, and gentle wind flexibility in the organ. These attributes allow the personality of the instrument to instill a musical sense to the sound. Wind, expression boxes, and accurate well-terraced voicing become the palette for the musician to lead services and congregational singing.

The Swell flute chorus was finished out with a 4 Nachthorn to complete the option of a flute-based Cornet. The strings of this division were broadened to complement a larger 8 Bourdon installed to improve the foundation of the Swell. The 4 Principal was rescaled to accommodate the increased foundation. Finally, an 8 Hautbois was added.

The Great division was revised with several changes. The 16 Gemshorn was extended to provide an 8. The original installation had relied heavily on Haskelled bass pipes due to limited chamber space. This, coupled with limited chamber openings, had always hampered the organ for an adequate bass line. The Great Principal was also rescaled and re-voiced for the changes and improvements to the room. Additional changes included replacing the 8 flute with a Rohrflöte and adding a 4 Spitzflöte.

The Choir division in the previous organ resembled more of an enclosed Positiv, as was common in the 1970s and 80s. Changes here included addition of an 8 Geigen Prinzipal, revoicing the remaining 4 and 2′, and balancing the III Scharf for a functional enclosed Principal chorus for choir accompaniment. The 8 Holzgedeckt was rescaled and revoiced to provide a more fulfilling tone. Some articulation was retained for character, but it was still greatly refined.

The original Pedal division was complete with a nice array of independent stops. However, it, too, was compromised by providing the 16 Principal with Haskelled pipes in the lowest octave and period voicing for the rank’s pipework. The new installation includes full-length pipes with the lowest five notes of the Principal and Gemshorn residing on the back wall for maximum bass reflection.  

The chamber construction was specified in the design details we provided. Attention was given to the density of wall structures to provide the best reflective surfaces possible. We worked with the architect to design the ceiling of the chamber to match the sanctuary ceiling in an effort to avoid the “arch” effect often encountered with organ chambers. By eliminating the overhang and wall extensions around the tone opening often found with chambers, egress is greatly improved.

The enhancements included a smooth reflective ceiling replacing the 1950s “fuzzy” acoustical surface. The choir loft is floored in ceramic tile with carpet limited to just the walkways beside the pews.  

The results have provided optimal egress and balance for the organ. Jeff Harbin noted that stops previously unusable on the old organ were now functional. Congregation and choir singing reflected an immediate improvement. The room has a warm, clean, and exciting sound matching the new visual look.

The organ was first heard for the Smiley Gregg concert in late August. Mr. Gregg was a long time member of First United Methodist and instrumental in promoting the music program of the church. The Smiley Gregg concerts have been a long-standing tradition for Dalton First United Methodist as a fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity. I have personally attended several of these over the years and remain impressed with their impact on the local community.

We are pleased to have been part of this renovation project and to provide the organ for the renewed sanctuary. Our thanks go to Peter Infanger, John Wigal, and Jeff Harbin for their cooperation and support for this project. I also thank our own staff for their efforts in creating a fine instrument for future generations.

—Phillip K. Parkey  

President and Tonal Director

Parkey OrganBuilders


Parkey OrganBuilders Staff for Opus 16

Phillip K. Parkey – president and tonal director

Michael Morris – case designer and engineering

Fred Bahr – tonal work and voicing

Philip Read – shop supervisor and assembly

Johan Nix – master woodworker, construction and assembly

Kurtis Robinson – CNC operator, construction and assembly

Chris Bowman – tonal work, voicing, installation

Otilia Gamboa – winchest construction, wiring

Matthew Edwards – assembly and installation

Jonathan Meeks – office manager

Keith Williamson – sales and scheduling


Design consultation by:

Jeff Harbin – music director and organist, Dalton First United Methodist Church, Dalton, Georgia

John Wigal – organ consultant, Church of the Good Shepherd, Lookout Mountain, Tennessee


GREAT (Unenclosed)

16 Gemshorn 61 pipes 

8 Principal 61 pipes 

8 Gemshorn (ext) 12 pipes 

8 Rohrflöte 61 pipes

4 Octave 61 pipes 

4 Spitzflöte 61 pipes 

2 Fifteenth 61 pipes 

IV Fourniture 244 pipes 

III Cymbal 183 pipes

8 Festival Trumpet (Choir) 

Chimes (21 notes)

    (located in Choir expression box)

Great Unison Off

MIDI on Great


SWELL (Enclosed)

8 Bourdon 61 pipes

8 Viola 61 pipes 

8 Viola Celeste (TC) 49 pipes 

4 Principal 61 pipes 

4 Nachthorn 61 pipes 

223 Nazard 61 pipes 

2 Blockflöte 61 pipes 

135 Tierce 61 pipes 

IV Plein Jeu 244 pipes 

16 Basson 61 pipes 

8 Trompette 61 pipes 

8 Hautbois 61 pipes 

4 Rohr Schalmei 61 pipes 


Swell 16

Swell Unison Off

Swell 4

MIDI On Swell

CHOIR (Enclosed)

8 Geigen Prinzipal 61 pipes 

8 Holzgedeckt 61 pipes  

8 Erzähler 61 pipes 

8 Erzähler Celeste (TC) 49 pipes 

4 Spitz Prinzipal 61 pipes 

4 Waldflöte 61 pipes 

2 Klein Octav 61 pipes 

113 Quint 61 pipes 

III Scharf 183 pipes 

8 Krummhorn 61 pipes 


8 Festival Trumpet 61 pipes 


Choir 16

Choir Unison Off

Choir 4

MIDI on Choir


32 Resultant (derived)* 

16 Principal 32 pipes 

16 Subbass 32 pipes 

16 Gemshorn (Great)

8 Octave 32 pipes 

8 Bourdon (ext) 12 pipes 

8 Gemshorn (Great) 

4 Choral Bass 32 pipes 

4 Flöte (ext) 12 pipes 

III Mixture 96 pipes 

IV Harmonics (derived) 

16 Bombarde 32 pipes 

16 Basson (Swell)

8 Trompette (ext) 12 pipes 

4 Krummhorn (Choir)

8 Festival Trumpet (Choir)

MIDI on Pedal



Swell to Great 16

Swell to Great 8

Swell to Great 4

Choir to Great 16

Choir to Great 8

Choir to Great 4


Swell to Choir 16

Swell to Choir 8

Swell to Choir 4


Great to Pedal 8

Swell to Pedal 8

Swell to Pedal 4

Choir to Pedal 8

Choir to Pedal 4


Great/Choir Transfer



(300 Levels of Memory)

12 General Pistons – thumb and toe

8 Divisional Pistons – thumb for manuals; thumb and toe for Pedal

Swell to Pedal Reversible – thumb and toe

Great to Pedal Reversible – thumb and toe

Choir to Pedal Reversible – thumb and toe

Swell to Great Reversible – thumb only

Choir to Great Reversible – thumb only

Sforzando Reversible – thumb and toe 

Zimbelstern Reversible – thumb and toe


50 ranks, 2,842 pipes


* (Smart Resultant = Drawn on Subbass until 16 Principal is engaged and then revert to resultant derived from Principal)

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