Two Sets of Keys Transferred in Amherst Sale: To a Home and to its Famous Pipe Organ

Dec. 2, 2019

It’s not often that a house is built for a theater pipe organ, but that’s exactly what happened during the 1970s in Amherst when Ralph Bacha and his partner designed their house to accommodate a Marr & Colton organ.

After decades of enjoyment, the death of his partner and an exhaustive search to find a new home for the unusual instrument, Bacha, 67, is ready to turn over two sets of keys.

A retired piano technician has purchased the organ – and he got the house along with it.

“I’ve seen many organs in houses, but it is fairly rare to find one that was specifically built to accommodate a theater pipe organ,” said new owner Gary L. Shipe. “I became afraid that the organ would be taken out of the house and the house would be sold as a regular house. If that organ was taken out of its home, it would not survive.”

The giant instrument occupies five subterranean chambers in the 2,500-square-foot home. The collection of circuit boards, blower, 18 speakers, piano and pipes soars two stories high.
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