After 90 years Beechworth’s prodigal organ is returning to its original home at the town hall, after passionate lobbying by residents.
For decades, the very existence of the organ was lost to history.
Until Mark Stephens and other residents stumbled across details and a photo about 14 years ago, while researching the Christ Church organ.
“At the time we were researching and it turned up that there was an organ in the town hall, we managed to find a photograph and that really has been the key to rediscovering it,” he said.
“The photograph showed the organ in its rightful place in the Beechworth Town Hall and in front it is what looks like a school graduation.
“That photo really was key at all stages of a very long road.”
Mr Stephens said the organ was a window into the town’s history, but residents still need to raise $5000 to solidify its return.
“It was installed in 1886, just six years after the Ned Kelly outbreak, it’s a great reminder of Beechworth at the time and will be a great centrepiece for tourism,” he said.
“At the time the people of Beechworth were stunned by the horrors of the Kelly outbreak and looked for something cultural and beautiful to heal the town.
“The organ and historic town hall was suppose to echo the great town halls of the 19th century.”
Mr Stephens said by 1907 the organ had fallen into disrepair, with residents preferring to use pianos, so it was sold for 20 pounds.
In May, residents discovered the original organ, which found its way to St Albans Anglican Church in Melbourne, was being sold by the Anglican Dioceses.
Decades after the organ left the town and amid a groundswell of support, Mr Stephens approached the dioceses and secured the return of the organ with a bid of $6000.
He said Bendigo Bank had already donated $1000, with the rest to be raised by the community this month.
Mr Stephens said the contract was currently being drawn up.
The organ society have secured a $8000 grant from the Copeland Foundation to pay for the organ to be transported from Melbourne and installed in Beechworth.
Once installed, Mr Stephens said, Indigo Shire Council will be responsible for maintenance.
Although the organ is considered a relic, its return will also mark the return of organ music to the hall.
“What we’d like to do is adopt Beechworth or regional musicians, especially young ones maybe doing VCE music or with some level of skill,” he said.
“We’ll encourage them to play the organ, give them basic instructions on how it works and provide a platform for them to perform.”
Residents can donate to the Beechworth Organ Society at town’s Bendigo Bank.
You can now receive updates straight to your inbox each morning from The Border Mail. Sign up here