Rebuilt, Relocated, Replaced, Recycled --
The History of the Organs in the First United Methodist Church of Birmingham, Alabama

It's a shame that many of the church records from the years around the construction of the present building and the installation of the first organ were lost. Without them we have to rely on newspaper reports and other "outside" information to learn about the organ itself. Of course, we know what it looked like. Tinted photographs were sold on post cards around the turn of the century, and we're fortunate that the interior of First Church was considered photogenic enough to be included in the series.

In this photo you can see that the façade of the organ was quite close to the front of the choir loft, with only one full row of seats visible. Because the organ had mechanical key action ("tracker" action), the keyboards were attached to the case, and there was room for only a divided row of choir seats behind the first row.

Published reports tell us that Belle McCoy played the first service on the organ, and that at the time it wasn't quite complete. Newspaper reports of the day mention the cost of this organ -- $10,000.00 -- and they identify the builder: Hook & Hastings of Boston. In some cases, that would be enough information to give us all sorts of details about the organ. All we would have to do would be to contact the company and ask them what the organ was like.

Unfortunately for us, that company is no longer in business, and their records were also lost. We have just a few tidbits of information that can be gained from remaining sources.

You can start seeing some of the evidence on the next page.

© Copyright 2001 AD, James H. Cook