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Cornel Zimmer Organ Builders, Denver, North Carolina

North Decatur Presbyterian Church, Decatur, Georgia

At the corner of Medlock Road and Scott Boulevard stands a unique structure prompting more than just a few passersby to take a second glance. The congregation of the church is also unique in many ways, yet with a story reminiscent of countless other congregations throughout the country.
When the present sanctuary was built, an electronic organ was purchased with the dream of installing a grand pipe organ in the not-too-distant future. In the same vein as a host of other congregations, money needed for a pipe organ was diverted to other, more pressing needs. When its fiftieth anniversary drew near, however, the members of North Decatur found the impetus they needed to fulfill their long-awaited dream for a pipe organ, thanks to a successful “Play Your Part” fund-raising campaign.

To replace the aging electronic organ, the church chose Cornel Zimmer Organ Builders of Denver, North Carolina to build and place an all-new pipe/digital organ in the rear gallery of their sanctuary. Placed high on the axis of the church and speaking directly down the nave, the organ enjoys prime placement. In preparation for the organ, the congregation removed all of the carpet in the balcony and much of the carpet in the nave and chancel. In place of the carpet, hard surface flooring was added, affording the organ even greater tonal egress. Heat buildup in the peak of the church, an unfortunate side effect of the unique architecture, was alleviated with a new exhaust system, drawing the hot air away from the organ.

Given the budget and space limitations of the church, Cornel Zimmer Organbuilders set about designing an organ that would serve many roles, including accompanying congregational singing, choral accompaniment, and use as a recital instrument. A three-manual specification was designed with foundation pipe ranks in the Swell, Great and Pedal.

The façade is taken from the Pedal 16' and 8' principals, with the Great division located above the swell box. The Great division includes a number of full-length 8¢ stops giving the organ a rich, singing foundation. The First Open Diapason is a broad scale, while the Second Open Diapason is of lesser scale and volume, yet it still provides the foundation necessary to be used with the upperwork of the principal chorus. Also on the Great is an 8' Flute Harmonique, playing dual roles as a foundation and a solo stop.

The Swell division contains a principal chorus as well as many other stops useful for accompanying the sizable choir that co-inhabits the rear gallery with the organ. The Choir division comprises digital stops and is at home with the main organ. The organist is also given the option of playing the Choir division antiphonally through an independent audio system in the front transept of the church. This option proves very useful for accompanying congregational singing, as well as allowing for a myriad of dialogue effects with the main organ. Given the importance of these tasks, the Choir division was designed to be a sizable, yet complete division incorporating a principal chorus with mixture, mutations, reeds and celestes.
Of special note are the many colorful reeds incorporated into all the divisions of this organ. Chorus reeds speaking 16' 8' and 4'' pitch are found in the Great, Swell and Pedal, complementing the flue choruses and numerous color reeds found in the Choir division. The diversity of reed stops available to the organist allows for a dramatic layering effect. Two solo reeds are also incorporated: the Tuba speaking from the main organ in the balcony and the Festival Trumpet speaking from high in the chancel archway. Two 32' reeds prove useful in both accompanying and solo works. The Contre Basson is enclosed with the Swell division, giving it greater flexibility.

The windchests of this organ utilize individual electro-pneumatic note actions, affording greater versatility in pipe layout as well as borrowing stops into the Pedal. In diatonic arrangements, the C and C# sides of adjacent stops can be reversed to promote greater tuning stability. Wooden windtrunks and ample reservoirs assure a steady wind supply even under the greatest demands.
This versatile organ is voiced to fill the room with rich sound, which envelops the congregation, allowing it to sing with complete freedom. Whether people are seated in the nave, gallery or chancel, the organ is never overpowering.

The organ incorporates all new pipework from Cornel Zimmer Organ Builders’ pipemaker, Tommy Linder, as well as pipework from A.R. Schopp’s Sons, Inc. in Alliance, Ohio and Luc Ladurantaye Tuyautier Inc. of Lac Saguay, Quebec, Canada. George Zong and David Caldwell built the console and casework, incorporating special accents found throughout the room, and Eric Molenaar oversaw the wiring of the organ. Marty Lemons matched the finish for the new organ precisely with the finish found on the existing woodwork in the room. Jim Twyne oversaw the tonal finishing of the organ with assistance from Mike Rathke and Nathan Bryson. Cornel and Anne Zimmer designed the organ and oversaw the management of the project. A special thanks is also in order to both David Bothwell and organist/choirmaster Jamie Shiell of North Decatur Presbyterian Church for their valuable input on this project.

Nathan Bryson, with input from Cornel Zimmer and Jim Twyne

GREAT (Unenclosed, Manual II)

16' Double Diapason (WTC)

8' Open Diapason (61 pipes)

8' Second Diapason (WTC)

8' Bourdon (61 pipes)

8' Harmonic Flute (61 pipes)

4' Octave (61 pipes)

4' Spitzflöte (WTC)

22/3' Twelfth (WTC)

2' Super Octave (61 pipes)

13/5' Seventeenth (WTC)

11/3' Mixture IV (244 pipes)

16' Bombarde (WTC)

8' Trumpet (WTC)

8' French Horn (Choir)

8' Festival Trumpet (WTC) (non-coupling)

8' Tuba Mirabilis (Choir)

4' Clarion (WTC)


Chimes (WTC)

SWELL (Expressive, Manual III)

16' Lieblich Gedeckt (WTC)

8' Diapason (61 pipes)

8' Rohrflöte (61 pipes)

8' Viole de Gambe (61 pipes)

8' Voix Celeste (WTC)

8' Flute Celeste II (WTC)

4' Prestant (61 pipes)

4' Triangle Flute (WTC)

2' Waldflöte (61 pipes)

2' Plein Jeu IV (WTC)

16' Double Trumpet (WTC)

8' Trompette (61 pipes)

8' Oboe (WTC)

8' Festival Trumpet (non-coupling)

8' Vox Humana (WTC)

4' Clairon (WTC)


Zimbelstern (WTC)

Swell to Swell 16'

Swell Unison Off

Swell to Swell 4'

CHOIR (Expressive, Manual I)

16' Gemshorn (WTC)

8' Principal (WTC)

8' Holzgedeckt (WTC)

8' Gemshorn (WTC)

8' Gemshorn Celeste (WTC)

8' Erzahler Celeste II (WTC)

4' Octave (WTC)

4' Koppelflöte (WTC)

22/3 ' Nazard (WTC)

2' Superoctave (WTC)

2' Piccolo (WTC)

13/5' Tierce (WTC)

1' Scharff III (WTC)

16' Basset Horn (WTC)

8' Petite Trompette (WTC)

8' English Horn (WTC)

8' French Horn (WTC)

8' Cromorne (WTC)

8' Festival Trumpet (non-coupling)

8' Tuba Mirabilis (WTC)

Harp (WTC)


Choir to Choir 16'

Choir Unison Off

Choir to Choir 4'

PEDAL (Unenclosed)

32' Contra Bourdon (WTC)

16' Principal (32 pipes)

16' Subbass (WTC)

16' Double Diapason (Great)

16' Lieblich Gedeckt (Swell)

16' Gemshorn (Choir)

8' Octave (32 pipes)

8' Bass Flute (WTC)

8' Lieblich Gedeckt (Swell)

4' Choral Bass (12 pipes)

4' Triangle Flute (Swell)

4' Harmonic Flute (Great)

22/3' Mixture IV (WTC)

32' Contre Bombarde (WTC)

32' Contre Basson (WTC)

16' Trombone (WTC)

16' Bombarde (Great)

16' Double Trumpet (Swell)

8' Trumpet (WTC)

4' Clarion (WTC)

4' Bassett Horn (Choir)

WTC = Walker Technical Co. digital voices

Total ranks: 73

Pipe ranks: 17

Digital ranks: 56

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