The OHS Pipe Organ Database

BuilderID 221

Builder Identification

Hartford, Connecticut, 1898–1937; Firm name from inception until 1937.

Additional Notes

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

    John T. Austin emigrated to U.S. in 1889; with Farrand & Votey Organ Co. of Detroit, Michigan; developed Universal Air Chest system; with Clough & Warren Company, started new pipe organ division; first Austin-patent organs built 1893, Clough & Warren factory destroyed by fire, 1898.

    John T. Austin and brother Basil G. Austin incorporate business as Austin Organ Company, rent space in Boston, Massachusetts, 1898; relocate to Hartford, Connecticut, 1899; John T. Austin general manager, became president 1907.

    Austin company produced 1200 pipe organs between 1915 and 1931; stock market crash 1929; sales dwindle in following years; company ceased organ production and began liquidating assets 1935, assets purchased by Frederic B. and Basil F. Austin who reopen as Austin Organs, Inc., 1937; relocated to smaller facility.

    Sources:
    • Diapason, Dec. 1924, p6.
    • Diapason, Jul. 1935, p1.
    • Diapason, Feb. 1937, p1.
    • American Organist, Nov. 1993, p40.
    •  

    See Austin Organs, Inc. for further history of the company.

     

  • Staff: Orla D. Allen; Charles C. Aitken; Gordon S. Auchincloss; Basil G. Austin; Donald B. Austin; Frederick B. Austin; Harry W. Austin; Karen Avery; W. L. Barrows; James T. Benzmiller; Stuart S. Biza; George C. Bolinger; William F. Brame; Joseph Breton; David A. J. Broome; Calvin Brown; Herbert Brown; John Spencer Camp; David Campbell; L. R. Cheney; Michael Chiaradia; David W. Cogswell; H. H. Du Brule; Robert L. Eby; Robert Pier Elliot; William Engle; Eric E. Ezequelle; David Finch; Elisha Fowler; Emmett R. Gaderer; Gallagher; Richard M. Geddes, Sr.; Curt Goettlich; George Graff; Warren B. Gratian; R. Thomas Griffen; Charles W. Griffiths; George A. Hallwachs; Richard C. Hamar; John A. Hansen; Henry Harrison; George Head; Fred G. Hefner; Floyd T. Higgins; Joseph Hoffman; Robert Hope-Jones; Victor Hoyt; Andrew A. Huntington; Afred Issacson; Charles T. Ives; J. B. Jacobs; James B. Jamison; David Johnston; Frank King; Daniel R. Kingman; Stanley Knight; Nik Kurtz; Peter Kurtz; Frank W. Kutschera; George E. La Marche; William W. Laws; Robert Leslie; John Lizzi; Frank B. Look; Kimberlee Lopez; C. R. McKay; J. R. McKay; Judwiga Majewski; (George D. Marshall?); Octavius Marshall; Victor M. Marsilio; Margaret Martino; Carlton Michell; Frederick L. Mitchell; Hippolito Moure; Hector Navedo; José Navedo; Charles L. Neill; Andrew Nicholls; Neill-Johnson firm; Peter E. Nielsen; Aaron G. Olmsted; Luis Ortiz; Benton Osgood; Howard L. Penny; Michael Petronio; Elmer Phelps; Leon D. Phelps; Hugh M. Pierce; J. B. Pierce; Richard J. Piper; Stephen Po-Chedley; Mark Poulin; Waldo S. Pratt; Rafael Ramos; Ferdinand T. E. Rassman; Noemi Rivera; George J. Sabol; James E. Scheirer; Felix Schoenstein & Sons; Otto Schoenstein; Hugh Sears; Pete Sieker; Stewart Skates; William Slater; Percival Stark; Frank J. Steere; William B. Stickel; J. H. Stiff; Bert Strickland; Randy Thrift; Thomas R. Thomas; Robert F. Tilton; Vernon A. Thrift; (Roy Tolchard?); R. Stewart Traquair; Erik Travis; Minka Trozic; Hugh Turpin; Antonio Valdez; Jon Van Houten; J. Edgar Varnum; Charles W. Walker; Howard A. Walker; John Wanamaker Store; Samuel R. Warren; Morton B. Welch; John Westwood; Albert Whitham; E. J. Wilbur; Robert Wilson; John Wright; Zoltan Zsitvay.

     

  • From the OHS PC Database Builders Listing editor, updated Mar 8, 2016 —

    John T. Austin emigrated to the U.S. in 1889 and began his American career with the Farrand & Votey Organ Co. of Detroit, MI. It was while working with that firm that he developed his signature Universal Air Chest system for which he received a U.S. Patent. His employers declined to purchase the patent, instead Austin was able to make an agreement with another Detroit firm, Clough & Warren Company, a reed organ maker. The firm would start a new pipe organ division to be led by John Austin. The first Austin-patent organs were built in 1893, the same year that John’s brother, Basil Austin, came to the United States. Unfortunately, in 1898 while John was installing Opus 22 at Fourth Congregational Church in Hartford, Connecticut, the Clough & Warren factory was destroyed by fire, and was not to be rebuilt.

    After the fire, John T. Austin and his brother Basil G. Austin incorporated the business as the Austin Organ Company. The Austins rented space in Boston to complete two contracts in New England, but during that year prominent businessmen of Hartford, Connecticut convinced John T. Austin to relocate there. He leased a space on Woodland Street in the recently built but never-occupied Watson H Bliss mills building in the spring of 1899. A few years later, the company was able to purchase the property. John T. Austin served as general manager of the firm, and became president in 1907.

    Between 1915 and 1931 the Austin company produced 1200 pipe organs, approximately 75 instruments per year. However, 1929 brought the stock market crash and the Great Depression, and sales began to dwindle. By 1935, the officials of the company ceased organ production and began liquidating company assets, most of which were purchased by the newly established Austin Organs, Inc., operated by John Austin’s nephews, Frederic B. and Basil F. Austin. In 1937 Austin Organs, Inc. officially became successors to Austin Organ Company. The new company relocated to a smaller facility behind the huge complex that had served as the Austin Organ Company factory for 38 years. During World War II, the factory was contracted to produce coat hangers and glider wings for the war effort, but the glider wing contract was cancelled shortly thereafter. After the war, Austin Organs, Inc. experienced tremendous growth with the booming post war economy. John T. Austin lived long enough to see the beginning of new prosperity, he died September 17, 1948 in Hartford, Connecticut.

     

  • For further information see Austin Organs, Inc.

    For an introduction to the Austin family and their company history, see: Austin Family Overview.

Database Entries

There are 2129 entries in the database that describe organs by Austin Organ Co.


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Builder's nameplate. Photograph by Rev. Bob Dietel

Builder's Nameplate. Photograph by William T. Van Pelt

Builder's Nameplate. Photograph by Paul Butkus

Builder's Nameplate. Photograph by James R. Stettner

Builder's Nameplate. Photograph by Ryan D. Hulshizer

Builder's Nameplate. Photograph by Paul Marchesano

Builder's Nameplate. Photograph by Myron Chapman

Builder's Nameplate. Photograph by D. Edward Huss

Builder's Nameplate. Photograph by Chad Boorsma

Builder's Nameplate. Photograph by Richard Michaels

Builder's Nameplate. Photograph by Ty Prewitt

Console - Austin Nameplate. Photograph by Curt Hawkes

Builder's Nameplate. Photograph by Dave Norment