Church organ rescued by movers

A moving and storage company will give First Baptist Church’s historic organ a free home for as long it takes for the church to raise funds and install it.

Mark Silverman of Westborough’s Mark’s Moving & Storage also donated a free semi truck to move the gigantic organ from its longtime space in a vacant Hyde Square church yesterday.

“It’s really a lovely gesture on his part,” First Baptist Pastor Rev. Ashlee Wiest-Laird told the Gazette.

“We’ve been fortunate to have good community support and we like to give back to the community,” Silverman told the Gazette. “This was screaming out for our help.”

As the Gazette previously reported, First Baptist was being nudged to move the organ out of its six-year home at the vacant former Blessed Sacrament Church on Centre Street.

First Baptist at 633 Centre St. lost its rare 1859 organ in a devastating 2005 fire. It bought an 1872 organ as a replacement. But, while much of the church building has been restored, the sanctuary has not, and fund-raising for that continues. The organ has remained in storage.

The organ is massive, with 1,700 pipes and huge slabs of stone used to pressurize its bellows. Silverman said he has never moved anything like it in his 33 years in business, calling it “as big as some people’s first floor.” While Mark’s provided free moving, the church did have to hire organ experts to help, Wiest-Laird said.

Silverman read about the church’s plight in the Boston Globe. He said he is Jewish and has no religious connection to the church.

“This situation had nothing to do with religion or anything like that,” he said. Instead, it is about “another human being in need” and the church’s dream of restoring its glory.

“I’m certainly not ordained, but I like to preach a little bit,” Silverman said. “What I preach is, when people have a dream, they should not give up on that dream.”

Wiest-Laird said that First Baptist received several generous local offers to store the organ, including from JP’s Arborway Auto, but that Mark’s offered the best situation.

As for the renovation of the sanctuary, First Baptist recently issued a request for proposals for local organizations to partner in creative re-use of the sanctuary space. For more on that story, see the May 11 Gazette.

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