The organ occupying the gallery at the Basilica was built in 1897 by the firm of George S. Hutchings of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Widely respected as one of the premier builders of the time, Hutchings' only real competition was the Hook and Hastings Company of Boston, Massachusetts. Dedicated on September 26, 1897 it was regarded as the finest instrument in the country. Alexandre Guilmant was invited to give a recital on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, playing two different programs on December 8th and 9th, 1897. This program included the U.S. premiere of his Sixth Organ Sonata.

Two organ builders who would have a lasting influence on organ building in the United States worked for Hutchings during the construction of Opus 410: Ernest M. Skinner and Carlton Mitchell. Skinner is credited with many design elements and mechanical innovations such as the “bat-wing” console and electro-pneumatic action. Hutchings was so impressed with Skinner's talent that he sent him to England where, in exchange for information on Hutchings electro-pneumatic action, Skinner received technical specifications for the celebrated Willis reeds. The reeds in Opus410 are a result of this exchange. Skinner went on to start his own company - one of the most influential organ companies in the United States; Skinner's organs are known as “Symphonic” because the stops tend to imitate a symphony. One stop in Opus 410, the Swell 4' Shawm (originally called 4' Saxophone), looks remarkably similar to to Skinners Bassoon stops, right down to the bevel tipped shallots.

Mitchell,anorganbuilderfromEngland,knownforhisfinestringvoicing. AlthoughMitchell did not stay with Hutchings for long, the remarkable string stops in the organ are due to his influence. Mitchell went on to work for the Austin Organ Company of Hartford, CT and later built a few instruments on his own – the most famous being the three-manual organ at Most Precious Blood in Hyde Park, Massachusetts. 


​The 1968 rebuild by Henri Lahaise and Son with Charles B. Fisk as consultant resulted in the loss of several stops, most notably the 8' Tuba, the pedal 16' Open Diapason and much of the Choir foundation stops. While innovative for 1897, the original action was still experimental and had shortcomings; it was decided to place the organ on slider chests at this time, patterned from the original Hutchings toeboards. One 1897 manual chest from the Choir still exists, unused and unrestored. The primary from this chest, pictured at left, clearly shows one of the earliest examples of Skinner's maple-cap magnet design.





In 1997 the Choir division was reinstated and some other tonal changes made. The 1968 and 1997 tonal work was very sympathetic to the original tone of the organ and rather successful. This is unique in the fact that is has been rebuilt and altered twice since it was installed and yet still remains cohesive in its ensemble – something very rare to find in instruments of this size.

Today, the organ remains as one of the most important and respected instruments in New England; the splendid acoustics of the Basilica play no small role in this. Very rare in the United States, the acoustics of the Basilica are unparallelled, reminiscent of the great European churches. The unique convening of talents in the original design in addition to respectful modifications make Opus 410 both an instrument of the highest caliber and a historic treasure. 

George S. Hutchings Opus 410, 1897

Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Boston, Massachusetts

"The Mission Church"

SPECIFICATION

GREAT

16' Double Diapason

8' Open Diapason

8' Spitzflöte

8' Gamba

8' Doppel Flöte

4' Octave

4' Fugara

4' Chimney Flute

2 2/3' Twelfth

2' Spindle Flute

1 3/5' Tierce

V Mixture

III Scharf

VII Cymbal

16' Posaune

8' Trumpet

4' Clarion

8' Solo Tuba


SWELL

16' Bourdon

8' Diapason

8' Viola

8' Viola Celeste

8' Gedeckt

4' Octave

4' Koppelflöte

2 2/3' Nazard

2' Blockflöte

1 3/5' Tierce

1 1/3' Larigot

V Mixture

16' Fagot

8' Trompette

8' Oboe

8' Vox Humana

4' Shawm

8' Solo Tuba 

Tremolo

CHOIR

16' Gamba (prepared)

8' Diapason

8' Geigen Principal

8' Concert Flute

8' Dolce

8' Gedeckt

4' Principal

4' Flute Traverso

2' Octave

II Sesquealtera

IV Mixture

8' Cremona

8' Solo Tuba







PEDAL

32' Bourdon (Ext.)

16' Diapason (Great)

16' Violone

16' Bourdon

16' Dulciana

8' Octave

8' Flute (Ext.)

8' Cello (Ext.)

5 1/3' Quint (Great, 16')

4' Superoctave (Great 16')

4' Flute (Ext.)

2' Flute (Ext.)

IV Mixture

16' Trombone

8' Trumpet (Ext.)