Dutch Street Organ
Orange City’s 107-year-old Dutch street organ has 67 keys, 288 pipes, drums and registers for harmony, melody, accompaniment and bass that create unforgettable music at Stadscentrum. It’s one of very few still in working condition.
Plays daily at 10:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
Dutch Street Organ History
Since the 1950s, this organ has been in the possession of the Friends of the Festival Foundation to be used during Tulip Festival and other occasions during the year.
This unusual instrument was built by Charles Marenghi of Paris, France. It was originally constructed as a dance organ of 79 keys in 1909. Dance organs eventually fell out of fashion and this instrument was converted to a street organ by the firm of Jacques Minning of Rotterdam, The Netherlands. It was reduced in size to the present 67-key configuration.
The three figures in the front were added as well. This street organ was shipped to Philadelphia in 1950 to provide entertainment for the Netherlands Trade Fair. Harry Van Pelt, a professional actor from the Netherlands, learned that this organ was going to be disposed of due to the cost of shipping. He contacted the Orange City Chamber of Commerce, and within two hours a check was on its way to Philadelphia. At the time, this was only the second-known Dutch street organ in the United States.
After several years of use, this organ was completely restored by Dobson Pipe Organ Builders of Lake City, Iowa, in 2012. It was torn down to the bottom and completely rebuilt. The restoration included a brand new cart and new wheels made by an Amish wheelwright from Ohio. The figurines on the front were also completely restored to their original design by a professional from Texas.
The organ functions today with the use of an electric motor attached to the flywheel. Originally, the organ was run by hand. Once the flywheel is energized with two different belts, it will keep air blowing from the bellows through the whole system. The books that come through the key frame are punched so each note sounds at the appropriate time and provides the music you hear.