Organ Renovation



Randy Ruthsatz

gave a wonderful "God Bless America" concert on July 4th.  

God Bless America Concert - July 4, 2016 - Grace Episcopal Church's Podcast
Sermons and homilies are posted each Thursday and Sunday.



The Sandusky Register recently had a great article about our organ and the builders.  Click here to read.


MAY 2016

The organ installation is almost complete. By the time you read this update you may have been fortunate enough to hear master organ builder and organist, John- Paul Buzard, treat us to a mini concert following the 10:00am service on the 24th. Our organ is an aesthetically beautiful instrument and a number of us have already had the pleasure of hearing it’s gorgeous, full sound. Grace will be well served by our organ for  many generations to come. We anticipate that the organ will be put into service on Sunday, May 1, 2016, and we invite parishioners and friends of Grace alike to attend that service and enjoy our new wonder under Randy’s artistry. The tentative plans are to have a formal dedication of the organ on September 18, 2016. Jan and the vestry will share details of that exciting event as they become finalized. Bring a friend to the May 1st, 10:00am service so that we can share our magnificent organ music and hear our talented choir.

APRIL 2016

There is light at the end of the tunnel!  The week of March 13, 2016 will be a week to be remembered – the organ pipes are finally being installed in our new Buzard Opus 44 Pipe Organ.

This event can be considered the second to the last step in the organ installation process, the final step being the final voicing of the instrument.  After the approximately 3,000 pipes are installed each pipe will be given a final voicing.  A very meticulous and time consuming process.

We hope that many of you have had the opportunity to stop by the Church the last few weeks and witness this ongoing process.  It has been a fascinating process to watch and truly makes one appreciate and acknowledge the skill and craftsmanship that John Paul Buzard Organ Builders have put into our new organ.


MARCH 2016

The organ installation crew remains hard at work. It will be about two and a half weeks before the actual pipe installation begins.

As you know, many of the pipes are being stored in the back of the church. There are 3000 pipes that will be installed and each one must be “voiced” or tuned. Routing cable is ongoing. Tentatively, the console or keyboard and stops apparatus is being installed on Tuesday, February 23rd.  It will be exciting to see this put in place. By way of reminder, Randy will be playing the console from the left side of the chancel, not the right, as the keyboard is being relocated to afford the organist a better opportunity to hear the choir and music as it resonates throughout the church.

We will keep you updated on the progress but come see for yourselves!



For the last several years it has become increasingly apparent that our 19th century Johnson Tracker Pipe Organ was in need of significant repair. To determine the prudent path forward the Church contracted with organ consultant Scott R. Riedel & Associates of Milwaukee, WI to evaluate our organ. 

After surveying our organ Mr. Riedel recommended we consider the purchase of a new/renovated organ.

With Mr. Riedel’s assistance and guidance and after much discussion, contemplation and prayer Grace Church contracted with the John-Paul Buzard Pipe Organ Builders of Champaign, IL for a new/renovated pipe organ.  Thus began construction of the Buzard Opus 44 Pipe Organ.  This new three manual and pedal organ will have 43 independent speaking stops and 59 ranks of pipes.  Several sets of pipes as well as the best components of our former organ’s facade will be incorporated into this new instrument.

During the week of May 24, 2015 representatives from John-Paul Buzard Pipe Organ Builders arrived at Grace Church to dismantle our Johnson Tracker Pipe Organ.  All components that are being used in the new organ were transported back to the Buzard work shop in Champaign, IL.

While work continued at the Buzard factory, Grace Church was undergoing some renovations as well.  Due to the relocation of the new organ console pew alterations, replacement flooring, painting, electrical wiring, etc. were necessary.  To complete this portion of the project the Church entered into an agreement with Feick Contractors in Sandusky.  John Feick and his company provided all needed labor to complete these alterations.  They also provided necessary drawings and collaborated with Scott R. Riedel & Associates as well as J-P Buzard Pipe Organ Builders to insure a trouble free installation.

During the first week of December a work crew from J-P Buzard installed portions of the new façade which features an 8’ Dulzian Pipe in the façade’s central flat.  These new pipes along with new enameled wood resonators will relate to the 16’ Pedal Principle of flamed copper on the flanking sides of the façade.

On December 11, 2015 ten parishioners traveled to Champaign, IL to visit the John-Paul Buzard Pipe Organ Factory.  We were joined by our organ consultant Scott Riedel who traveled from Milwaukee, WI to accompany us on our tour.  During the tour we inspected the new organ console as well as other various completed components of our organ and received a basic lesson in organ building.  Of particular interest was a demonstration of the exhausting and meticulous pipe voicing process.  Considering there are approximately 3,000 pipes that are first voiced at the factory and then go through a final voicing after installation it is indeed a daunting task.  All who made the trip agreed it was a very worthwhile experience and left convinced we have purchased an instrument of the highest quality.

For the past 12 months J-P Buzard Pipe Organ Builders have been diligently building our new organ.  Scott Riedel has made periodic visits to the Buzard workshop to insure the quality of the instrument and confirm production milestones have been achieved.

On January 25, 2016 installation of our new pipe organ will commence, with a targeted completion of Easter 2016.  We are confident that our Buzard Opus 44 Pipe Organ will serve as a glorious testament to Grace Church’s commitment to music, the arts and our community for the next 100+ years.



On Friday, December 11, 2015, ten of us ventured to Champaign, Illinois to visit the John-Paul Buzard Pipe Organ Factory located in downtown Champaign.  The tour took place on Saturday morning.  We paid our own expenses on this amazing trip, which was organized by Jeff and included Webster, Jan, Roz, Jo, Rich, Randy, Debbie, Mary Ellen and Jim Hart.  We were  joined by our organ consultant, Scott Riedel, who traveled by Amtrak from his home in Milwaukee to be with us on the tour. 

As you may have observed, the façade pipes and casework have already been installed.  The pipes that you see are all functioning and each pipe has a voice of its own.  Our tour allowed us to see the remaining parts of the organ that will be taken apart at the factory and reassembled at Grace.  The anticipated delivery date of our organ is January 26, 2016. 

We saw the newly completed console cabinet, which contains the keyboards.  It is a beautiful piece of craftsmanship and will be located on the left side of the chancel instead of the right.  Randy will be seated on the left behind the console.  This change was made to allow Randy to hear a better balance between the sounds of the organ, the church and choir. 

John Paul estimates that there are approximately 3000 pipes in our organ, with almost half of those pipes being renovated and re-used from our previous  organ.  The pipes, new and old, are either wood or metal.  A “forest of pipes” will be installed in the large space behind the façade and façade pipes. 

Once the organ is installed, it will take approximately six (6) weeks to tune each and every one of the 3000 pipes.  This is an exhausting, meticulous and crucial part of the installation process to ensure that all of the pipes are in tune and in tune with each other.  As you may know, the organ pipes come in an array of different shapes and sizes and are designed to create the sounds of trumpets, trombones, oboes, bassoons, clarinets, flutes, strings and various other musical instruments.  Our tour included a demonstration of the sights and sounds of various pipes.  The tuning and voicing of the pipes will be done by a tonal crew of six (6) people, all of whom will be traveling from Champaign, Illinois to do the work. 

Following the factory tour, we drove a short distance to the  University of Illinois campus where St. John the Divine Episcopal Church is located.  Our master organ builder, John-Paul, serves as the organist at this church and his company built the organ.  We were treated to a sampling of the beautiful music that our new organ will make.  John-Paul, Scott Riedel and Randy each played an organ anthem for us.  It was a beautiful, impromptu music festival concluding with Randy’s rousing performance of Trumpet Voluntary.  It was a thrill to hear “the three organists” perform for us.  Having heard the organ in Champaign, we can assure you that our new musical instrument will serve as a glorious testament to our parish’s commitment to music, the arts and our community. 


Jim Hart & Jeff Fowler

Organ Renovation Project Managers



Only a couple of months to go!  Work continues at our master organ builder John-Paul Buzard.  We are pleased to report all remains on schedule for the installation to begin in January 2016.

Our portion of the project has been completed – painting, pew alterations, flooring, etc.; insuring a trouble free installation.

On December 1st thru December 4th a crew from J.P. Buzard will be at Grace Church installing the new organ façade.  Visual aids of this new façade have been on display outside the sanctuary the last few weeks.  The J-P Buzard folks were sensitive to the fact that Christmas is upon us and wanted the church to look its best during the holiday season.  We are very grateful to them for this early Christmas present.

Recently John-Paul Buzard invited us to travel to Champaign, Illinois and tour his work shop and personally inspect our organ in the pre-assembly stage.  They will demonstrate for us the pipe voicing process as well as how organs are built and assembled.  We will also be able to view our recently completed new organ console.

We will be visiting Buzard on December 11th and 12th.  We will travel on Friday the 11th and spend the night in Champaign.  On Saturday morning we will tour the J.P. Buzard workshop and return to Sandusky on Saturday afternoon/evening.

This is an open invitation to anyone who is interested in touring the Buzard workshop for this once in a lifetime opportunity.    Please call the Church Office and speak with Jan, or contact Jim Hart or Jeff Fowler for details.

As always if there are any questions or concerns, please let us know.  We are here to answer any questions you may have.


Jim Hart & Jeff Fowler

Organ Renovation Project Managers

Bruce Miller

Vestry Liaison


The organ project remains on schedule, slightly modified due to the fact that our master organ builder lost a valuable staff member shortly before our organ project was started. 

As you may know, our “old” organ has been removed and the choir pews have been reconfigured to accommodate the new location of the organ console, where Randy will play his beautiful music every Sunday.  The new console is being built and the bench and pedal board have been assembled.  The organ pipe construction is in full swing.  Some of our old wooden pipes are being restored.  For those of you more in the know regarding “organ” parts, the main case and expression box frame is almost fully assembled, main wind chests have been installed in the case/box frame and wind regulators are being built. 

The project is on track and the completion and installation of our new instrument will provide a warm atmosphere during the upcoming cold, harsh winter months. 


As work continues at our master organ builder John-Paul Buzard’s company, progress is also being made at Grace Church.  Although the building of the organ is certainly the major component of this project, Grace Church also has a portion for which we are responsible. 

For the past few weeks Feick Contractors have been quite busy readying the church for the installation of the organ.  Among the “punch list” items that the church must complete include:

· Cleaning and painting of pipe organ chamber

· Removal and reworking of choir pews

· Flooring work (old/new console pit, pew risers)

· Misc. painting/staining of reworked choir pews

· Electrical service for organ console

· Painting of Sanctuary walls

To date the cleaning and painting of the pipe organ chamber has been completed and the choir pews have been removed and are currently being reworked as required.  The choir pew risers have been reworked and the new organ console pit has been completed and all sub flooring has been installed.

Tangible progress is clearly visible and we expect our portion of the project to be completed on time and ready for the John-Paul Buzard team to install the organ in early January 2016.

As always if there are any questions or concerns please let us know.  We are here to answer any questions you may have.


We are excited to report that the organ project is full speed ahead as we near the end of the summer.  The top portion of the organ has been erected and work is ongoing with respect to the base and first two levels of the organ case.       

The console cabinet is being built and will be white, consistent with the walls and trim work throughout our beautiful church. 

We regret one glitch.  The tonal assistant working for John-Paul Buzard, our master builder, quit unexpectedly to return to school.  The completion date will be delayed due to understaffing in the Tonal Department.  We anticipate that the completion date will only be pushed back a couple of weeks.  We apologize for this short delay, which was beyond the control of our organ builder.  You may recall that we anticipated a completion date before Christmas; it will now be shortly following Christmas. 



Our old organ was removed during the week of May 24 and the re-useable parts were sent to the factory located in Champaign, Illinois, under the direction of Master Organ Builder John-Paul Buzard.

As you may recall, we have been utilizing the good services of organ consultant  Scott Riedel of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who recently visited the Buzard factory on our behalf to check on the progress being made. Scott reports that the construction and assembly is on schedule and that excellent materials are being used and the workmanship is outstanding. Some of the parts being built include wood pipes, the pedal board, the console cabinet and console control parts and wind regulator bellows.

We will continue to keep you updated as this exciting project continues, with completion expected  to be during the  Christmas season.

JUNE 2015

John Paul Buzard, our master organ builder, is scheduled to arrive at Grace with a “big truck” on Tuesday, May 26.  Come see for yourself!  Much of the existing organ will be removed.  The new pipes are being built.  For those of you who may know about the terminology, the new windchests and expression shutter frames arrive during the week of May 26th.  The new console cabinet (keyboard, if you will) is complete except for staining and finishing.

Some of us may travel to Illinois to see the factory work being done and if any of you have an interest in an organ factory site visit, please contact Debbie Chase and we will keep you in the loop as a date and travel details are established.  It is full speed ahead for our new/rebuilt organ!  We are right on schedule.

MAY 2015

After much talk and anticipation we will begin to see some tangible results regarding the organ project.  Beginning late May

John-Paul Buzard Pipe Organ Builders will be on site to dismantle our current organ.  As was mentioned during January’s Annual Meeting J.P. Buzard Pipe Organ Builders will remove the components of our current organ that they plan on using in the new/refurbished organ.  Also during this visit they will remove all unneeded components leaving an empty chamber that will be used for the new organ.

In addition be sure to visit the Grace Church website ( to view a few “progress” pictures of our new organ recently provided by J.P. Buzard.

As always, Co-Project Managers Jim Hart and Jeff Fowler are available to answer any questions regarding this exciting project.

APRIL 2015

The pipe organ renovation project is on schedule and is set for installation for the 2015 Christmas season.  Two payments have been made to Buzard Pipe Organ Builders, L.L.C. located in Champaign, Illinois.  John Paul Buzard, our master pipe organ builder, estimates that our new pipe organ will contain approximately 15% of our existing organ.  With the help of our organ consultant, Scott Riedel, we are attempting to sell some of the pipes and organ parts that cannot be used in our renovation but which still may have value to others.  We will keep you updated. Please contact any of us if you have questions, comments or suggestions. 

We value your input.


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