Bethel’s six rank pipe (369 pipes) organ, manufactured by the Wicks Organ Bethel’s majestic pipe organCompany, was built and installed in 1914. It was the 109th organ built by Wicks and given the name “Opus 109.” It traveled from the Wicks’ factory in Highland, Illinois to Bridgewater by train, then hauled to the church on farmers’ wagons. The cost was $1,051.61 and shipping $28.84.
At first, it was powered by a human “pumper” who stood behind the front case and pumped the large wind resevoir to keep it full of air under enough pressure to maintain a steady flow of air to what ever pipes were called upon to speak. In 1927, electricity was furnished to the church and a motor took over the job of supplying air to the pipes.
It is a tubular pneumatic style of organ which means air not only creates the sound through the pipes, but supplies the power through a series of tubes that opens the valves that allow the air under each rank of pipes and also opens the valve to each individual pipe. Most other organs have either an electronic or mechanical system to open the valves. The organ is one of very few like it remaining in the country.
It has been kept in good repair over the past nearly 100 years and is the same instrument now as in 1914 with two exceptions. Several years ago a soft sounding rank of pipes was adjusted to produce brighter, higher sounds. In 1978 a set of chimes, in memory of Russell Hughes and Ross Haeussler, was installed.