The OHS Pipe Organ Database

BuilderID 2026

Builder Identification

Boston, 1874; Philadelphia 1881 & NYC 1889; Detroit, 1893-1900; Los Angeles 1903; Hoboken, NJ 1905; Philadelphia 1909-27.

Additional Notes

  • From the OHS PC Database, derived from A Guide to North American Organbuilders, revised edition, by David H. Fox (Organ Historical Society, 1997). —

    Born 2 Nov. 1849 in New Brunswick, Canada; in Boston, Massachusetts, carpenter; with George Ryder of Boston, Massachusetts, Oct. 4, 1874; with Roosevelt firm branch shop in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 26, 1881; with firm in New York City, New York, 1889; with Farrand & Votey of Detroit, Michigan, 1893-1900; with Aeolian Co. of Garwood, New Jersey, 1900; with Murray M. Harris of Los Angeles, California, 1900; with Los Angeles Art Organ Co. of Los Angeles, California, 1903, superintendent; relocated firm to Hoboken, New Jersey, as the Art Organ Co., 1905; firm reorganized as the Electrolian Organ Co.; established the short-lived Big Organ Co. to exhibit St. Louis Exposition organ at Coney Island, NY, c. 1905; with Reuben Midmer & Son of New York City, New York; with the Wanamaker shop of Philadelphia, 1 Sep. 1909; retired to Pasadena, California Dec. 21, 1927; died 26 April 1940 in Altadena, California.

    Patents held:
    With Edwin S. Votey and William Wood: Patent #536,977; 2 Aug. 1895; electromagnet
    Patent #536,978; 2 Aug. 1895; electromagnet
    Patent #547,568; 8 Oct. 1895; electric key action
    Patent #594,391; 30 Nov. 1897; pouch pneumatic
    Patent #643,840; 20 Feb. 1900; electric and tubular action combined
    Patent #666,658; 29 Jan. 1901; electropneumatic action
    Patent #982,419; 24 Jan. 1911; electric action
    Patent #1,146,321; 13 Jul. 1915; automatic organ

    Sources:
    • Diapason Jun. 1940:4.
    • Diapason Jan. 1943:1.
    • Diapason May 1971:18.
    • Orpha Ochse, The History of the Organ in the United States (Bloomington: Indiana University Press) 1975. 358.
    • American Organist, Mar. 1926:62.
    •  

  • From the OHS Database Builders Listing editor, November 30, 2016. —

    William Boone Fleming was born 2 November, 1849 in New Brunswick, Canada. He worked in Boston, Massachusetts, as a carpenter; he hired with George Ryder of Boston, Massachusetts, October 4, 1874 [where he learned organbuilding]. He went to work with the Roosevelt firm branch shop in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on July 26, 1881; later moving to the main facility in New York City, New York, in 1889. Roosevelt Organ Works closed in 1893 and the firms assets were sold to Farrand & Votey of Detroit, Michigan. Fleming continued with the new management after the sale (1893-1900); and then with its successor Aeolian Co. of Garwood, New Jersey, 1900.

    Latter in the same year, he moved to California and began with Murray M. Harris of Los Angeles, California; again remaining with a successor firm when Harris was forced out and the firm became Los Angeles Art Organ Co. of Los Angeles, in 1903, with Fleming as the superintendent. The firm had financial difficulties because of the expense of the enormous St. Louis Exposition organ which it had constructed, its new principal investor, Eben Smith, relocated the firm to Hoboken, New Jersey, 1905; firm reorganized as the Electrolian Organ Co.. After the Electrolian firm failed, Fleming established the short-lived Big Organ Co. to exhibit the St. Louis Exposition organ at Coney Island, New York, c. 1905. When that project failed, Fleming returned to the East and worked for a few years with Reuben Midmer & Son of New York City.

    He completed the circle with St. Louis Exhibition organ when he was lured to the Wanamaker shop of Philadelphia, 1 Sep. 1909, where he worked on enlarging the organ he had spent so much time in building in Los Angles. He retired to Pasadena, California December 21, 1927. William Fleming died 26 April, 1940 in Altadena, California.

    Sources:
    • The basic framework is taken from David Fox's article above with the narrative fleshed out with information from other articles in the Builders Listing (those with links in this article).
    • Email from Jim Stark to editor, received June 14, 2016.
    •  

Database Entries

There are no entries in the database that describe organs by William Boone Fleming.


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