Landmarks Of Delaware County: Klais Organ in Gray Chapel, OWU
10 Dec , 2021
The term “landmark” can certainly be applied to things other than buildings. A relatively new object can also be a landmark, depending on the context.
A good case in point is the magnificent Rexford Keller Memorial Organ in University Hall’s Gray Chapel on the campus of Ohio Wesleyan University.
The instrument, built and installed in 1980 by the Klais organ company in Bonn, Germany, is a four-manual, tracker action organ with 82 ranks, 55 stops, and 4,644 pipes. It is the largest of the 12 Klais organs in the United States; as it so happens, one of the others is also in Delaware at Asbury United Methodist Church.
The Klais company of organ builders was launched in 1882 by Johannes Klais and is now in the hands of Johannes’ great-grandson, Phillip. It builds church and concert organs in a workshop with 60 craftspeople.
The current organ is the third in Gray Chapel. When University Hall was constructed in 1893, Gray Chapel housed a Roosevelt organ, and then a Kimball organ was installed in 1931.
The organ was restored and expanded in 2013 at a cost of over one-half million dollars.
For a treat, here’s a video of the Rexford Keller/Klais organ playing a holiday tune.