Wesley Methodist Episcopal Church

101 E. Grant Street
Minneapolis, MN 55403
The congregation is no longer extant but the Historic Wesley Center operates the building as a non-profit corporation
Builder: Estey Organ Co., Opus 1978 (1922)
Manuals: 3
Ranks: 24-26
Action: Electro-pneumatic

Notes: Information taken from photocopies of original correspondence in posession of the Estey Organ Museum in Brattleboro, VT, courtesy of John Carnahan. We do not have the original contract, but have correspondence showing a May 31, 1921 proposal of 32 ranks by McRostie and a proposal of 24 ranks by Estey. Estey objected to some stops. The actual organ was a compromise between the two. Bergstrom pipes were included to save money, but presented problems since pressure was increased from 3" to 5".  Presented here is a guess of that compromise. Stops marked (?) were in one proposal (or vice versa) but not in the other.
16' Open Diapason 61* (?)
8' Open Diapason 61
8' Second Open Diapason 61* (? in letters)
8' Gross Flute 61 (wood)
8' Gamba 61
4' Octave 61 (? *)
4' Flute Harmonic 61
8' Trumpet 61 (or Tuba?)

16' Bourdon 73 (wood)
8' Open Diapason 73
8' First Violins (?)
8' Viol d'Orchestra (?)
8' Salicional 73
8' Voix Celeste 61
8' Stopped Diapason 73 (wood)
8' Aeoline 73 (known from correspondence)
4' Flauto Traverso 73 (wood)
8' Oboe 73
8' Cornopean 73
8' Vox Humana 73
8' Violin Diapason 73*
8' Gemshorn (?)
8' Muted Viol 73
8' Concert Flute 73 (wood)
4' Flute d'Amour 73 (wood & metal)
2' Piccolo (?)
8' Clarinet 73

32' Resultant+
16' Open Diapason 42 (wood)+
16' Open Diapason (Great)
16' Bourdon 30 (wood)
16' Lieblich Gedackt (from swell)
8' Bass Flute (?)
8' Cello (? known from correspondence)
16' Trombone (?)

* from Bergstrom organ
+from Bergstrom organ, 12 small pipes of 16'  Open and 7 small pipes of 16' Bourdon

This is the only 3-manual built by Estey in Minnesota.
Between 1904 and 1959 there are 39 organs in the opus list for MN.

Primary correspondents for this project were:
R. F. Gold (attorney in Minneapolis) RFG
Wm. M. McRostie ("Pipe Organ Expert", McPhail School of Music, Mpls) WMM
J. C. Estey (Estey Organ Company, Brattleboro, VT) JCE
J. P. Estey (Estey Organ Company, Brattleboro, VT) JPE
Fred L. Whidden (Columbus, Ohio) FLW
G. N. Bucklin GNB
R. F. Gold (Gold-Stabeck Company, Mpls) RFG
Frank Lee Roberts (Wesley Methodist pastor) RFG
Reese Bowman Kester (District Superintendent, Northern MN Conference Methodist Church) RBK
E. L. Mchaffey (Service technician, Houghton, Michigan) ELM


13 May 1921, RFG to Estey "When could you make delivery on an organ? We want to spend somewhere between Six and Ten Thousand Dollars, and would be pleased to hae you offer some suggestions...At present we have an antiquated organ in the church which was all right in its day but the action at the present time is going bad. An organ builder has told us that there are a large number of pipes in the organ that are in first-class shape and could possibly be used in a new organ."
14 May 1921, WMM to Estey "If this Wesley Church deal turns out anything but a false alarm, I very much hope you will see your way to making an exception on the trade in part. It happens that I know this organ to be a pretty good tracker organ and to be quite readily salable. However, to expect to sell it impromptou [sic], would be asking a good deal of luck..Have been in touch with these people at intervals for over a year. They have recently called a new pastor which may acount [sic] for their sudden burst of ambition."
27 May 1921, WMM to Estey "Have talked with Rev. Hoagland and with Mr. Roy S. Gold of Gold Stabeck Co. re new organ for WESLEY M. E. CHURCH, MINNEAPOLIS and I think I can give you the dope...In the first place the old organ is fearfuly [sic] and wonderfully made. It was carved out by hand here in Minneapolis. The case is all right and can be used togather [sic] with the 16' and 8' diapasons which form part of show pipes. The pedal pipes are also usable and possibly some few metal sets...As to the financial side, Dr. Hoagland states that the church can not meet its current expenses, being poorly located and shy of wealthy members. Mr. Gold confirms this. He said, 'I am the richest on in the church and I am broke.' He is scouting for a donation in case of secureing [sic] one they plan to buy about a $20,000.00 three manual organ.  If they have to go it on their own, they plan to buy a $10,000 two manual...The old organ is now unplayable and they will undoubtedly do something quite soon. I believe you have better than an even break as Mr. Gold helped Mr. Gratian set up some Estey Organ years ago and appreciates the staying qualities of Estey Organs...As this is possibly the chance to get a demonstration organ here, I have arranged with Mr. Gold that on his next trip to Chicago, I will meet him there and we will have it out at Lyon & Healey's. I am the more inclined to this as Mr. Gold is a nut on organs and will undoubtedly have on in his home as soon as things turn in a business way."
31 May 1921 WMM to Estey "Mr. Gold and I have worked out a tentative scheme for the organ at Wesley M. E. Church, Mpls. [The design consists of about 31 ranks (difficult to tell) and includes 4 ranks from the Bergstrom organ. It includes a "Flute Mixture" and "Saxaphone [sic]"] "The case is good and it can be used togather [sic] with the 16' and 8' open diapason pipes which it contains. The present open 8' is all right for a second open 8'. The octave could be used but think the saving too small to do it. The present swell diapason is all right. The presnet [sic] open diapason 16' is too good to throw away and too weak to back up a modern organ. The Bourdon and Bass Flute are all right. Possibly this pedal may seem tooheavy but can't see any other way to utilize the present Open 16'...Mr. Gold is not figureing [sic] with any other concern just now but should an Estey prove out of reach, would probably turn to a Kimball or Moller...P.S. They have an orgoblow 3 h.p. new last year..."
9 June 1921 JCE to WMM "...we have gone over this proposition and have arrived at a figure of $15,400 for the complete specification, using much of the old pipes as are in good condition...Of course there are one or two things of which we do not wholly approve...While the Saxophone is an effective stop, of course we must draw the line somewhere and certainly it is not needed in the Choir for the proper balance of that division."
22 June 1921 WMM to Estey "...The old open diapason 16' and 8' are in the case which they are inclined to want finished in the usual gold bronze. It is now a stencil design in oil coulours [sic]."
25 June 1921 Estey to WMM "...it will be necessary to have the old pipes sent to the factory to be revoiced. The Diapason pipes, both 16' and 8', will be included in these and while they were here, we could have them refinished...In regard to delivery, it would be probably seven months before we could make installation of the new organ..."
16 Aug 1921 WMM to Estey "...this church has quite a large auditorium...somewhat dead...you will run no risk of too much tone...we thought it best to give an impression of newness by replacing the old fashioned design in oils with plain dull bronze."
17 Aug 1921 JCE to WMM "...This is going to be a pretty large organ and we don't feel that the space is any too adequate. As we are obliged, of course, to place the new organ behind the present case, there is no possibility of getting any more space toward the front...If your former statement was true that it [the 16' Diapason] was too light to back up a modern organ, are we not going to be faced with a serious difficulty in trying to use it as the principal Pedal Diapason? You have, of course, estimated that this would be used in arriving at the price...The price is so close that we want to avoid if possible the excessive expense of shipping any of the pipes...but the basses we should want to leave there and also arrange to have the redecorating done there...The most serious question in all the above is the Pedal Open Diapason...If it appears from your description that this is too small, our recommendation would be to abandon it altogether and cut our the Resultant and the Bass Flute and let us supply a new properly scaled Pedal Open Diapason."
18 Aug 1921 JCE to WMM "...We hope, therefore, that you have not agreed verbally to return the old front pipes here. There is nothing in the contract covering this...we prefer not to go to this expense...We want to make the console of Birch, not Cherry. We can use what is known as Cherry Birch, but it is almost impossible at this time to obtain satisfactory Cherry lumber."
30 Aug 1921 Estey to WMM "...we are satisfied that the Pedal Open Diapason will be of sufficiently large scale to use with the new organ, so that removes any hesitancy on our part on this point...We have to take exceptions, however...The facts are that you eliminated from the specification which we sent and which was priced at $15,400 the following stops: First Violin, Piccolo, Pedal Open Diapason. You added the following stops: Dulciana Violina 4', Chimes, Violone..."
1 Dec 1921 JPE to WMM "...Measure every pipe in the Pedal Open and every pipe in the Pedal Bourdon...complete list of every speaking pipe in the front and its diameter...Please give us also the diameters of all of the C's in the Choir Open..."
10 Jan 1922 WMM to Estey "...I trust you are now in posession [sic] of enough information to go ahead. I can tear the old organ out any time now and get anything exact...You doubtless noted the low pitch...I hope I can get along, for it would be hard for me to tear it out in my present crippled condition."
31 Jan 1922 Estey to WMM "...our new combination action in Wesley organ if you can get approval...We believe that if this organ is going to be representative of our latest work, it should be equipped with this new action...While we have reduced the number of combinations for the Swell, we are giving them four additional in the four general combinations."
1 Feb 1922 WMM to Estey "..the church wished the new combination action, though of course I had to be rather non-committal as to what it was."
19 Feb 1922 WMM to Estey "Please notify Mr. Roy Gold immediatly [sic] on shipping the above organ...I have said nothing of any change in employment to the church because it would unsettle their minds and might lead to trouble for you. They are after me quite hard to start in tearing out the old organ...In the matter of an opening recital, I flatly told them that our prices included no such item. They now remember that I told them just the contrary. I suppose that in view of the great interest this job has aroused, it would pay you to hire Golthwaite or Avery, rather than have a fuss over about $50.00. However I positively told them that they would have to pay it themselves...I venture to point out that this job has aroused an interest out of all proportion to the money expended. This is partly because Wesley Church is not self supporting, but is dependent on the M. E. Denomination for funds, and hence is of interest to all Methodists and also because there are a lot of other old organs whose owners are anxiously waiting the outcome to decide wether [sic] similar use of part of the old organ is advisable...I hope whoever you send will appreciate this and also hope that he will be able to use Mr. Roy Gold as a helper. He certainly deserves this little bit of employment, in his misfurtune [sic], after the way he stood out for The Estey in the face of just what happened at the University. (Universal recommendation of two other organs, and active efforts to sell a Moller on the part of the District Superintendant, Rev. Kester)...If possible, the organ should be completed for Easter. Ther [sic] are a lot of sales hanging on it and that is about the limit they can be held off."
27 Feb 1922 Estey to WMM "...we believe that it would be to our advantage to secure the services of either Mr. Goldthwaite or Mr. Avery for the opening recital on the organ...we should be glad to pay the expenses of such a recital...With reference to the front pipes, we will have Mr. Barrett refinish these when the organ is installed..."
22 Mar 1922 Invoice Terms: $7400 cash, 12 months note $7400 at 6%; freight collect [$218,000 in 2017 dollars, or $9100/rank]
23 Mar 1922 Estey to FLW "Change schedule so as to allow you to install organ #1978 Wesley M. E. Church Minneapolis, Minn. shipped 20th. Bucklin will assist...This is the first organ you have had equipped with our new combination action...This organ was sold by McRostie and it was originally intended that he should install it. Since the sale was made, however, Mr. McRostie has broken connections with us and is no longer in our employ. We then arranged to have Barrett set up the organ but after further considering the matter, we have decided that you should do the work with Bucklin's assistance...it is the first of any size that we have put in this territory...Several of the stops in the organ are made up of pipes from the old instrument and there will have to be considerable amount of fitting done on the job. These pipes were never sent here to the factory. The following stops are to be composed of pipes from the old organ: Great Open 16', which is in the front, Second Open Great 8', Choir Open 8', twelve small pipes of the 16' Pedal Open and seven small pipes to be added to the 16' Pedal Bourdon from which the Resultant is secured...If you require a helper on the job, we advise that you get in touch with Mr. Roy F. Gold. Mr. McRostie will know of him as he was a member of the Committee who has influence in having the order placed with us..."
Late March 1922 FLW to Estey "There is an old organ in this church to come down before we can start on the new one. Who stands the time and expense for this we have got to take it down that is sure. Also who stands the expense for a new panel in the case where the old console comes out. Mr. McRostie sure made these people a lot of promises that are going to be hard to fulfill, but I guess we can get along somehow."
5 Apr 1922 Estey to FLW "We have your note and are surprised to hear that we are expected to move the old organ. There is nothing in the contract that provides for this...there may be a chance for two opinions as to whether we or they are to furnish the panel to fill in where the old keydesk stood...we assume that it is the owners' business to furnish this panel...We have no knowledge of any verbal promises Mr. McRostie may have made to these people...we do know that the new organ which we built is a magnificent instrument. In fact we have never turned out a better one."
6 Apr 1922 RFG to Estey "...I have given up all hope of having the organ completed by Easter, as I doubt very much if they can get it finished much before the 20th or 25th of April..."
8 Apr 1922 FLW to Estey "...We have the old organ down and the new one well started, but this gang are sure enough Methodists they are pulling all the mean dirty little tricks that they know of. So far we have kept sweet but it can't hold out much longer."
13 Apr 1922 RFG to Estey "...details which apparently are in dispute...The first is in regard to the panel which is to be inserted where the old console was situated.  Your erectors will not have anything to do with the matter inasmuch as it is no specifically stated in the contract but it would seem to me inasmuch as the new console is detached that you should pay for the panelling that is to go in this location...Three other items which I had up with Mr. McRostie...The Estey Company would furnish the organist for the recital...He agreed to furnish lights for the footboard...He promised to furnish a remote control switch...we have decided that we want Edwin Arthur Kraft of Cleveland, Ohio and he has promised to come for $175.00 and pay his own expenses...hope to sell out the house and $1,000 extra and of course all money received for tickets we expect to apply on the purchase price of the organ..."
15 Apr 1922 FLW to Estey "If this job has got to be looked after this month you had better have someone else go there.  Bucklin and I have figured it will take two more weeks on this job at least. We are expecting to have some time when we get to regulating and tuning these Diapasons also the pedals Low C pedal Open is only thirteen feet long and we can't see how we can get a sixteen foot tone out of it. Will you take it up with Mr. Haskell and have him write or wire us right away if he has any suggestions what we can do with them."
17 Apr 1922 JGE to RFG "...The contract under which we built the organ was supposed to embody every promise and understanding which was made. It was thoroughly understood that we were not to furnish any case work except that for console and of course, we cannot assume the expense of $55 or $60 for repairs to the old case work, as indicated. The other three promises which you say Mr. McRostie made you he made on his own responsibility and without any authority from us...We would not care to undertake the responsibility of the expense of furnishing Mr. Kraft of Cleveland...In regard to a remote control switch, you will note that this is provided for in the contract to be furnished by the purchaser...We do not know of any way that we can assist you in compelling Mr. McRostie to make good his personal promises. He is no longer in our employ...We found it was necessary to sever our connection and we have no funds of his in our hands."
19 Apr 1922 Estey to FLW "...Now we cannot conceive of any organ being pitched to a low C Open Diapason of 13' in length and there must have been either some stopped pipes for the lower notes or they have been taken away with some of the old junk from the organ..."
20 Apr 1922 Estey to RFG "...we have looked through the contract for the organ we are installing in your church and we find no reference to any allowance for the old motor...We do not use blowers delivering 3" pressure..."
20 Apr 1922 JGE to FLW "We have another mare's-nest from Mr. Gold. He wrote us today that Mr. McRostie had stated to him that we would allow them something like $400 for their old motor...In view of all the complications which have developed, as a result of McRostie's promiscuous talking..."
20 Apr 1922 FLW to Estey "Perhaps you people would like to know how things are going here so here goes. We got the wind on for the first time today and tried the Old open Diapasons and they are rotten. They are made of thin metal and were originally voiced on three inch wind pressure so you can imagine how they sound on five inch pressure. I have started to revoice them but don't know how I will come out yet. I may have to box them up and send them in to the factory. McRostie has been whining [?] around several times and says that we were supposed to use the old Diapasons out of the swell organ for the Choir Diapason on this organ, and that you were to furnish seven lower notes for it as this one had the seven lower notes made of wood. I tried to put this stop in the Choir and was unable to get them on the chest as the scale was too large, so I took the Geigen Principal out of the old organ which was a smaller scale and had 61 pipes and put that in. They sound weak and thin. I don't see any possible chance to put on another one here without a lot of trouble and expense. So your only chance will be to send them back some money. Another thing that will cause trouble: that the crescendo and sforzando pedal are the same thing and if you take any stops off the crescendo you also take them off the sforzando. Now they haven't discovered this yet but the organist wanted to know what the crescendo brought on and how to take off the stops that he didn't want on. But he wants everything on the sforzando pedal...There is another thing that has started trouble here and that is there are only five combination pistons on the swell manual and the contract calls for six...According to the contract we are to redecorate the old front pipes, but they are in very good shape and the decorations that are now on them look better and harmonize with the decorations of the church and I think these people would be willing to let the pipes stand as they now are if you would be willing to call it square for taking down the old organ...This man Gold is quite a fellow but you don't want to let him bluff you by his letters...The woods are full of Organ Grinders out here and every day a new one shows up. They are all working for themselves and some of them look as if they were prosperous. That man Jackson from St. Paul came in the other day...says he would like to work for us. He has set up quite a few Moller organs...He is somewhat of a dude and I have noticed that the majority of that type that have worked for Estey have turned out a fizzle..."
29 Apr 1922 FLW to Estey "...Mr. Gold made the proposition that if we would pay for the panel that goes in where the old console came out that they would call it square about the [missing] sixth piston on the swell...This new arrangement of combination pistons are supposed to bring on pedal stops too, they don't do it now but they might. They haven't discovered that yet but when they do then the fun begins...We are working hard to get these old pedal stops to going...they are rotten and don't ever do this stunt again unless you take them to the factory first...We are trying to finish this week..."
1 May 1922 JPE to FLW "...Regarding the revised arrangement for these combinations, to consist of 5 on the Great, 4 on the Swell, and 4 on the Choir; we cannot account for there being 5 on the Swell, as the proposition we gave to Mr. McRostie was for 5, 4, and 4...As it is, these people are getting practically a handout of four or five hundred dollars, as this new combination action was put in with no extra charge, and we do not really see where they have a leg to stand on..."
4 May 1922 RFG to Estey "Contract provides for 6 pistons on swell. There are only 5. It will be satisfactory to waive additional piston provided you furnish panel or case which will cost approximately $50 [$680 in 2017]...This surely is meeting you half way. Are you going to lock up the organ and interfere with recital May 10th pending adjustment of this matter?..."
10 May 1922 Recital
12 May 1922 RFG to Estey "...With regard to the recital, I wish to advise that it was a complete success with the exception of the attendance, in which I was very much disappointed. I do not believe that we will clear over two or three hundred dollars..."
22 May 1922 RFG to Estey "I beg to advise that we dedicated our organ yesterday and at both services the organ showed up very fine. At the dedication, pledges for $6829.00 were received, half of which we have asked for cash, so I presume we will be able to remit you a fair sized check shortly... I told Mr. Whidden that I was disappointed in that the aeoline could not be made as soft as I thought it should be. In fact, the swell organ sounds too loud when the shutters are closed..."
7 June 1922 ELM to Estey "This organ is not just right yet. The combinations are sticking...The place is damp, for the back panel of the console is warped...also the keys are all out of line...Otherwise, outside of the reeds being out of tune, the organ is OK"
20 June 1922 JPE to ELM "...We have found out that we have sent a couple of these actions out made up to [sic] stiff, making no allowance for shrinking or swelling..."
26 June 1922 RFG to Estey "Would you please send me a couple springs for the tremulo. One of them has broken...I also wish that when one of your mechanics is in our locality that you would have him come up to the church and fix up the combination engine...Quite frequently buttons stick so that it is necessary to shut off the air before the stops can be shut off..."
29 June 1922 [J. P. Estey writes to William Schuelke in Milwaukee, requesting that he go to Minneapolis to fix the combination action.]
3 July 1922 ELM to Estey "...I invested in a couple of screw drivers and enough black lead to grease a Pierce Arrow and got at these combination actions. After taking the trouble to black up a couple of the pins, and incidentally most of my anatomy, it seemed to me that the trouble could not be caused by swelling and shrinking. I monked around a little and found that the magnets and the pins were not in line...This organ is standing up in good shape...However they have a young chap for organist who has the Skinner bug, he is just graduating from the MacPhail school, and the usual graduate from such a school knows more about organs than anyone else. He criticizes the organ pretty severely, and without any good reason for so doing...Stick a Skinner name on an organ and they think it is wonderful, whether it is any good or not."
17 Oct 1923 FLR to Estey "We are having considerable difficulty with our organ. The Stop Action Contacts are not at all reliable and we feel we must ask you to supply a different type...considerable difficulty with the chimes. Because there is no damper action on the chimes when they are played by themselves the sound does not cease from one key before the next key is struck and consequently there is discord. Can you supply a damper action to be applied to the present action? This is very necessary if we are to maintain the reputation of your organ as one of the foremost in the northwest."
7 March 1924 GNB to Estey "Met with the pastor and organist at church this evening, they put up a big kick about the chimes being so loud and chimes action noisy and one hardly blame them, the chimes as you know are located on top of the swell box and they clang like a fire bell, they tell me the chimes are criticised by every one who hears the organ, the only thing I can suggest is to bix them up tight...I don't know how many have been tinkering with the organ but it appears each one thinks something is faulty in construction..."
8 March 1924 JPE to GNB "...We are perfectly willing to proceed with boxing the chimes in providing the church will pay simply the actual cost of doing the work."
1 Dec 1924 "Kindly send us a tablet 'Flute Harmonic 4' for our organ" from secretary Helen Jorstad
13 March 1928 [Estey asked for a testimonial from Rev. Frank Lee Roberts of Wesley Church. In response, a letter was sent from Janney-Semple Hill & Co, Wholesale Hardware]: "In view of certain comments which have been made with reference to the operation of the organ since it has been installed in the church, the writer is inclined to feel that we would not desire at this time to offer any testimonial which could be used in your booklet. While there has been no complaint, in the writer's opinion, with reference to the tone of the organ, there has been considerable complaint about the mechanical arrangement. While the writer does not care to offer any criticism to you at the present time, we would not care to go on record as being heartily in favor of this instrument."
29 April 1931 [In an inter-office memo from the Estey New York studio to the Estey factory in Brattleboro]: "Mr. Cahil has requested that the following stop tablets be sent to the Wesley Methodist Church...16' Open Diapason, 8' Second Open Diapason, 8' Cello"
25 Jan 1932 [Organ Builder Bernard A. Shuttleworth to Estey]: "...Sometime ago your representative was here and discussed the possibility of replacing the console, as it is very unsatisfactory..."
16 March 1956 [Bertram C. Baldwin Jr., sales manager for Estey, to Arthur J. Fellows, organ technician in Minneapolis]: "Our price for a 3-manual stop tablet console would be $3,650.00 f.o.b. factory...Delivery can be made by November 1 if contract is awarded by April 15..."
12 June 1956 [Arthur J. Fellows to Bertram C. Baldwin]: "The church bought a Moller Console, and it is my opinion that was their intention right from the start, for the organist is a student of a teacher, who works with Moller."