First Christian Church

2500 University Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50311

Builder: Holtkamp Organ Co., Op. 1687, 1956. Additional work by Holtkamp in 2004.
Manuals: 3
Ranks: 35 (40+ following 2004 work)
Action: Electro-pneumatic

Notes: Information from Christopher Holtkamp. The organ includes 14 ranks of pipes from a previous 1915 Kilgen organ in this buildling. Additional information from Carl Staplin and the Organ Historical Society. Organ Historical Society as of 2014.

16 Quintadena
8 Principal
8 Gedackt
4 Octave
4 Spitzflöte
2 Doublette
    Mixture IV
    Scharf III
16 Dulzian
8 Trumpet

8 Voix Celeste
8 Rohrflöte
8 Salicional
8 Flauto Dolce
4 Gemshorn
4 Harmonic Flute
2 Fifteenth
    Plein Jeu IV
16 Bassoon
8 Trompette
8 Oboe
Sw/Sw (16/4)

8 Copula
4 Rohrflöte
2.2/3 Nazard
2 Nachthorn
1.3/5 Tierce
1 Sifflöte
    Fourniture III
8 Cromorne

16 Subbass
16 Quintadena (Gt)
8 Octave
8 Bourdon
4 Choral Bass
16 Posaune
16 Dulzian
8 Trumpet
4 Clarion

Des Moines, Iowa
First Christian Church (formerly called University Christian Church)

Holtkmp Organ, 1956/2004

The Holtkamp was installed in 1956 while Russell Saunders was organist and 
director of music.  To the best of my knowledge it was the first organ installed 
in Des Moines with exposed pipe work, and it created a sensation.  After that 
there were a number of fine instruments with good placement, but the Holtkamp 
was the first.  Russell Saunders remarked to me what a difference the instrument 
made to his own development  as an organist and teacher.

There were 26 stops with several extensions and borrows.  The Swell  was the 
smallest division with just 5 stops.  The organ was fine for Baroque repertoire 
and even some later repertoire, but it greatly needed completion of the Swell 
division.  It had only one reed on the Swell which was at 4'.  One of the most 
interesting aspects of the organ is that out of the 26 stops installed in 1956, 
14 of them were made from the 1915 Kilgen organ!  I thought that it was remarkable 
the voicers could accomplish this.  For example the 2' on the Holtkamp Swell was 
originally an 8' Dulciana, and the Cornet on the Holtkamp Positiv came from a 
Dolce Cornet mixture on the 1915 Kilgen. I know all this to be true, because I 
have the original 1956 worksheet from the shop, which gives the source for each stop. 

 Then more recently last year we made the 4' Oboe into a full length 8' Oboe, and 
we also added the following new pipe work:  8' Flauto Dolce, 4' Chimney Flute, a 
wonderful IV mixture, a 16' Basson, an 8' Celeste  and a large 8' French Trompette 
which contrasts nicely with the Germanic Trumpet on the Great. We also added 
tremolos to the Swell and Positive, and a Pos. to Gt. 16' cp.  There are also 16' 
and 4' cps. on the Swell that were in the original 1956 specs. I can't begin to tell 
you how much more versatile the instrument is, especially for church services and 
vocal accompaniment.  

We have a marvelously warm acoustic after a complete redoing of the sanctuary.  Robert 
Mahoney of Boulder, Colorado was a big help.  It was good before, but it is even better 
now. The church is very much in demand for concerts.

[Received from Carl Staplin October 26, 2005.]