Project Photo1

Photo 1.  Original placement of Moller organ in the auditorium.  Great pipe chamber is behind the grillwork.  Console is on the main floor and to the right of the exit door.  The Swell chamber is to the right of the stage and is not visible in this picture.


Project Photo2

Photo 2. The Roosevelt console as it looked in the early 2000s.  Pictured with the console are two grandchildren (and a spouse) of Principal V. K. Froula.


Foundation Undertakes Rebuild and Expansion of Organ at Roosevelt High School

Mr. V. K. Froula was the first principal of Roosevelt High School, and he assumed this position in approximately 1918.  Mr. Froula was an extraordinary principal and he worked hard from the start to make Roosevelt a public high school with high academic standards and with outstanding programs in music and the arts.  In 1938 he passed away due to a heart condition.  To create an enduring memorial for him, in 1940 the Alumni and friends of Roosevelt High School gave a two-manual seven rank Moller pipe organ to Roosevelt High School.  The organ was installed in the pipe chambers on either side of the main auditorium, pipe chambers which were constructed under direction of Mr. Froula during his lifetime but which had remained empty up to the point of his death (See Photo 1). 

Organists associated with the Seattle Chapter of the American Guild of Organists were involved with the instrument as early as October, 1940 when Wallace Seeley, former AGO Dean, played in the dedication concert.  The instrument was frequently played in the 1940s by the assistant principal and by others, and it is fondly remembered by Golden Grads of that period.  In the 1950s, it was used less, and after that, it was played only periodically.  In 2001, the Pipe Organ Foundation assumed care of the instrument.  By then, it was only marginally playable and in need of a complete rebuild.  The console at that time was itself in need of a complete refinishing (See Photo 2).

In 2004, a complete rebuilding of Roosevelt High School was imminent, and this rebuilding would mean constructing a new auditorium and moving the organ.  The Foundation and organ builder Clint Meadway were involved in packing up the organ for storage until it could be rebuilt.  To preserve the instrument and to get it in the cultural center of the renovated school (the theater), an organization was formed which was named, "Friends of RHS Froula Memorial Organ" which was led by Andrea Wilson.  That organization together with the Pipe Organ Foundation, the Puget Sound Theater Organ Society, Maple Leaf Lutheran Church, and especially the alumni of RHS and the Golden Grads were responsible for raising the $78,637 necessary to reimburse the Seattle School District for providing the space for two organ chambers, space for the console, space for the blower, and lines for communication between the chambers. 

In addition to the $78,637 for the space, an additional $35,000 had to be raised to make the rebuild possible.  This was provided in part by alumni and friends of the organ, but it was substantially underwritten by the Seattle Chapter of the American Guild of Organists who, by a special matched giving program, contributed an amazing $25,000.  This AGO chapter has a strong interest in helping youth to learn to play the organ, and it was the chapter's belief that Roosevelt High School, with its truly remarkable record in music and the arts,  was an ideal place for a pipe organ to enhance existing programs in music.  It was also believed that it would provide excellent opportunities for Roosevelt students who had an interest in learning to play the organ.

With the change from the old but resonant auditorium to the modern theater, it was immediately clear that the organ needed to be expanded as well as being rebuilt.  In 2008, the Pipe Organ Foundation took on this dual task.  It began by obtaining a somewhat newer Moller pipe organ from the First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Palo Alto, California.  This second organ was obtained in order to enhance the Roosevelt Moller, and details of this instrument are found in the Volunteers section of this web site. 

In a most helpful demonstration of support for the entire project, the Seattle School District provided the wood shop at Lincoln High School as a place where the rebuild and expansion could take place.  Beginning in the fall, 2008, the Foundation took over that space and moved the second organ in alongside of the Roosevelt instrument.  At the present time, the Roosevelt organ is being rebuilt and expanded with the organ from California.  See details of the work on the instrument in the News and Volunteers sections of this web site.  The goal is to install the instrument in Roosevelt High School in the summer of 2009 with its original console and  with more than twice as many voices as it originally possessed.

The history of the organ, many details of the rebuilding project, and photographs of the work and the volunteers are to be found in a book put together by Warren Henderson and Andrea Wilson.  These authors have given permission for the full text of his book to be put on our website. You can download the book in PDF format (23.0 MB) by clicking here.

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