With more than 33,000 pipes — 20 to 30 times the number found in a typical church organ — the Midmer-Losh organ tucked inside Atlantic City's original convention center, Boardwalk Hall, is the largest musical instrument in the world.

Click on any image to see a larger version of these photos from the Midmer-Losh restoration effort. || Read Pipe (Organ) Dreams from the Fall 2015 issue of Bucknell Magazine.

Photography by Bill Cardoni

Billie Jane Maul at Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City with largest instrument in the world. Bucknell Magazine

Rows upon rows of pipes, like these that surround Billie Jane Boyer Maul '57, are packed into eight chambers around Boardwalk Hall.

Billie Jane Maul at Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City with largest instrument in the world. Bucknell Magazine

Boardwalk Hall, the first modern convention center in the U.S., opened in 1929. The Midmer-Losh pipe organ was completed three years later, in 1932.

Billie Jane Maul at Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City with largest instrument in the world. Bucknell Magazine

Even from the cheap seats, the Midmer-Losh's one functioning chamber (to the right of the stage) is loud enough to startle.

Boardwalk Hall's pipe organs were a dream brought to life by Emerson Richards, an attorney, New Jersey state senator and pipe-organ expert.

Billie Jane Maul at Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City with largest instrument in the world. Bucknell Magazine

Restoration workers like Curt Mangel, president of the Historic Organ Restoration Committee, do much of their work in tight spaces as high as four stories above the floor.

Billie Jane Maul at Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City with largest instrument in the world. Bucknell Magazine

Bundles of wires like this one, hundreds of strands thick, offer a glimpse of the challenges the restorers face. Some have short-circuited, others have been shorn clean through, and none are color-coded or labeled.

Billie Jane Maul at Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City with largest instrument in the world. Bucknell Magazine

Dennis Cook, secretary of the Historic Organ Restoration Committee, examines the electromagnetic relays that transmit input from the organ console to the wind-chest valves at the bottom of each organ pipe.

Billie Jane Maul at Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City with largest instrument in the world. Bucknell Magazine

Inside Boardwalk Hall's organ shop, Maul cuts new kangaroo skin that will replace a leather valve. Each valve in the organ - as many as five for each of its 33,112 pipes - has reached the end of its 80-year lifespan.

Billie Jane Maul at Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City with largest instrument in the world. Bucknell Magazine

Eight blower motors like these originally powered the Midmer-Losh organ. Designed by an aircraft company, collectively they provided enough air pressure to raise a column of water 100 inches, an unprecedented level of acoustic power.

Billie Jane Maul at Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City with largest instrument in the world. Bucknell Magazine

With seven manuals (keyboards) and 1,237 stop tabs, the Midmer-Losh organ console is also the world's largest.

Billie Jane Maul at Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City with largest instrument in the world. Bucknell Magazine

Staff Organist Steven Ball keys in stops between songs. An electronic combination action that would greatly simplify the task was destroyed in 1944, when a hurricane flooded the hall.

Billie Jane Maul at Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City with largest instrument in the world. Bucknell Magazine

As a tour guide, Maul provides a human link between Atlantic City's grand pipe organ and the thousands who come to see and hear it each year.

Fall 2015 Online Exclusives


Back to the Future

Herbert Wilcox ’50

Herbert Wilcox ’50 tracked the remarkable paths of six Bucknellians from campus in the early ’50s to noteworthy careers to retiring within 300 yards of one another in the same Florida retirement community.

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