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Roscoe Evans - famous from Bluffton

Bluffton man was caretaker of the world's largest organ - located in Atlantic City, New Jersey

This is the third feature in a series "Famous from Bluffton." Previous features follow: • Samuel S. Yoder, U.S. Congressman

Dr. Robert Drake Murray, yellow fever expert

The following story is a reprint from a 1937 issue of The Bluffton News.

Former Bluffton boy in charge

of world’s largest pipe organ.

Roscoe Evans maintenance man

of huge Atlantic city


Son of former Bluffton liveryman

Visits friends here

Past week.

Maintenance man and caretaker of the world’s largest organ, which requires a building 10 stories high to house its 33,056 pipes is the job of Roscoe Evans, formerly of Bluffton, who was here visiting old friends during the past week.

The former Bluffton man an expert on organ construction has been responsible for the care and tuning of the great organ in the Atlantic City Convention hall since it was completed four years ago.

For the preceding two and one-half years he has been at the same place assisting in building the large musical instrument.

So extensive is the $400,000 organ in the auditorium of the convention hall that it requires four hours to walk thru the eight chambers crowded with pipes.

Pipe 64 feet high

Largest of the 33,056 speaking pipes of the organ is one wooded pipe 64 feet in height. Next largest are nine 32-foot pipes of metal, wood and reeds. One of the 32-foot pipes is three feet in diameter made of Oregon fir three inches thick.

Smallest pipe in the organ is no larger than a lead pencil in diameter, and has a speaking length of three-sixteenths of an inch in length. Many of the pipes are less than one-half inch long.

Eight blowers are incorporated in the organ, powered by motors from 40 to 60 horsepower in rating. Today the horse power of the organ’s 12 motors is 365.

10-story organ

A space 10 stories high is required to for the great organ that occupies the sub-basement, basement and eight floors in the auditorium.

The auditorium proper, in which the organ is built is so large that a 14-story building could be built inside its walls, without touching the ceiling, Evans said.

In length and breadth it is so large that a full-sized football field has been laid out with plenty of room for bleachers and night games played under the roof. Completely furnished, the convention hall cost approximately 15 million dollars.

Two consoles may be used in operation of the organ, either separately, or both at the same time.

Largest of the two is a seven-manual console, of the half-barrel type, 10 feet in diameter. It has 1,255 stops control and 933 speaking stops all within reach of the operator.

The other is a five manual portable with 850 stop controls that can be moved about the building. Two persons can play the organ at the same time, one at each console, if desired.

Seldom broadcast

Broadcasts although frequent from Convention hall are seldom made with the large organ.

Instead, a smaller one, a four-manual Kimball in the grand ball room is used.

Evans and one assistant handle all the tuning and other maintenance work on the organ. Both are kept busy continuously.

Designed of the organ was Emerson Richards, Atlantic City attorney and a state senator in New Jersey, who has traveled extensively in Europe and is recognized as an authority on tone. He often brings visitors from foreign lands to view the great organ.

At an electric power rate of two cents, when the complete organ is operated cost is approximately $5.70 an hour.

However, the average cost is approximately $3 an hour since the organ is seldom in full operation.

Left here in 1905

Evans left Bluffton 32 years ago, going to Van Wert where he learned to tune pianos in a factory. He was the son of John B. Evans, a Bluffton livery stable operator whose barn was at the present location of Sidney’s Drug shop.

From Van Wert, Evans went to Pueblo, Colo., then joined the navy and played the clarinet in the band on the U.S.S. South Dakota when he was but 18 years of age. Later he was a member of the Naval band at Mare Island, Calif.

Following his discharge from the Navy he returned to Denver, where he tuned pians with a music house. From there he went to Portland, Oregon, for additional piano work and took up the study of organ.

Later he was connected for several years with the Wurlitzer Organ Co., Tonawanda, N.Y., and finally went to New York City, where he was located before going to Atlantic City.

Post script

Born in Delphos on April 21, 1889, he was the son of John B. and Maggie Jones Evans.

A 32nd degree Mason, Evans retired in 1957. Following retirement, he and his wife, Cora, moved to Lima . He died Sept. 13, 1968, at age 79. His obituary stated that he maintained the Atlantic City organ for 23 years.

His wife, Cora, died Dec. 3, 1966. Both Roscoe and Cora are buried in Carmen Cemetery in Gomer.


Photos below are from the organ's website

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