On the evening of October 20, 2019, the St. Mark’s campus received a direct hit from one of the tornados that damaged a large swath of Dallas. Hours after the storm, a small army of contractors and restoration experts began cataloging the damage. Among them was Dr. Jason Alden, the School’s local organ technician, who entered the Chapel to assess damage to the Roosevelt Family Organ. Inside the darkened Chapel, Dr. Alden found significant pools of water throughout the building, organ loft, and within the organ case.
“Water and pipe organs certainly do not mix, and the presence of so much water was a cause for great concern,” said Glenn Stroh, St. Mark’s Organist and Choirmaster. A large majority of the organ’s components are made from wood, and the direct exposure to water and rapid changes in temperature and humidity levels caused permanent damage. In addition, the glue ran in many places throughout the organ, leaving much of the joinery significantly weakened.
The organ was disassembled and removed in June and has been shipped to the Orgues Létourneau workshop in Saint-Hyacinthe, Québec, where the organ was originally built in 2014. All 27 members of the Létourneau team are involved in the rebuild, and Mr. Stroh will be working closely with them in the coming months. The restoration of the Roosevelt Family Organ will involve an extensive, from-the-ground-up rebuild. A large portion of the organ’s wooden casework, internal structure, windchests, and related components including many of the organ’s wooden pipes will be replaced. Additionally, the thousands of original metal organ pipes will be restored and reused.
“The restoration work will continue through the 2020-2021 school year, with reinstallation planned in the summer of 2021,” Mr. Stroh said. Meanwhile, the School has installed an electronic organ to temporarily serve the Chapel and choir programs for the coming academic year. “We have complete confidence in the Létourneau team to restore our instrument and can’t wait to hear it sounding again in the St. Mark’s Chapel.”
The Roosevelt Family Pipe Organ was dedicated in 2015. It is modeled after great English pipe organs and has accompanied the St. Mark’s Choir and congregation during Chapel services, Choral Evensong, Lessons & Carols, and more. There are 3,432 pipes inside the organ, the longest of which measures 32 feet long.
St. Mark’s School of Texas is a private, nonsectarian college-preparatory boys’ day school for students in grades 1 through 12, located in Dallas, Texas. St. Mark’s aims to prepare young men to assume leadership and responsibility in a competitive and changing world.
St. Mark’s does not discriminate in the administration of its admission and education policies on the basis of race, color, religion, sexual orientation, or national or ethnic origin.