The First House Organs in the Colonies

Two gentlemen organists of Boston and Philadelphia respectively seem to share the historical position of being the first to own a house organ in the colonies. Thomas Brattle of Boston owned a one-manual organ which was imported from England in the late 1600’s or early 1700’s. This organ’s existence is first documented in a diary by Reverend Samuel Sewell on September 3, 1708 and again by Reverend Joseph Green in 1711. As Reverend Green reported, “I was at Mr. Thomas Brattle’s; heard ye organs and saw strange things in a microscope.”

Christopher Witt of Philadelphia belonged to the Hermits of Wissahickon. It is for this group that he is said to have built the first organ in America. In 1708 Witt moved the organ to his home in Germantown, Pennsylvania. No physical details are known of this instrument.

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Learn more by hosting a From Sea to Shining Sea organ and multi-media event in your community.  Visit www.fromseatoshiningsea.net to learn more.

Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist and David Jordan, media artist are the creators and performers of this one-of-a-kind event.

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