Charles Sumner Warren

Charles Sumner Warren. Organ builder, b Montreal 30 Nov 1842, d 1933. The youngest son of Samuel Russell Warren, he succeeded his father in1882 as head of S.R. Warren & Son.

Warren, Charles Sumner

Charles Sumner Warren. Organ builder, b Montreal 30 Nov 1842, d 1933. The youngest son of Samuel Russell Warren, he succeeded his father in1882 as head of S.R. Warren & Son.

According to an 1885 History of the County of York, Toronto, S.R. Warren & Son moved from Montreal to Toronto in 1878. The 1880 Toronto Directory gives the factory address as 241-249 Wellesley St, and by 1885 the business employed about 30 men. In 1886 the factory was moved to 39-45 McMurrich St. Charles Sumner later sold the business to D.W. Karn of Woodstock, Ont, in 1896. Examples of extant organs that were built while Warren was still the owner of the firm were instruments for St Michael's Cathedral in Toronto, 1886 (originally built for the Chicago Exhibition), and a smaller one for Deschambault, Que, 1892. Other instruments dating from this period were for: Wesley Congregational Church, Montreal (23 stops), 1879; Bond St Congregational Church, Toronto (17 stops), 1879; Queen's Avenue Methodist Church, London, Ont (42 stops); St Alban the Martyr, Ottawa, 1886; St Patrick's Church, Ottawa (34 stops); Emmanuel Pentecostal Church (formerly St Andrew's Presbyterian Church), New Westminster, BC (17 stops), 1891; and St John's Anglican Church, Port Hope, Ont, 1896.

After selling the firm of S.R. Warren & Son to D.W. Karn, Warren continued working for Karn. He briefly entered into a partnership with T.L. Hay, forming the Warren Church Organ Co (1913-15) but after a disagreement culminating in a lawsuit, he went back to work with Karn. Shortly thereafter Karn went out of business, but the employees formed a new company - the Woodstock Pipe Organ Builders. The Warrens however were not involved in this venture. Warren later retired to Rochester, NY, where he enjoyed special privileges with the Eastman Kodak Co, due to his numerous skills as a craftsman. He was an able organist who reputedly played always in five flats and entirely by ear, never having learned to read music; he was considered quite gifted in demonstrating an organ's resources. He patented a reed organ mechanism in 1888 and held several later patents as well for harmonium actions, one of which he assigned to the Bell Organ & Piano Co.

Charles Sumner's son, Frank Russell (b Montreal 25 Jul 1867, d Courtenay, BC, 7 Jul 1953) was married in 1891 to Emma Torrington, fifth daughter of F.H. Torrington. Their two sons, Samuel Russell (b Toronto 22 Nov 1892, d Genesee, NY, 23 Dec 1965) and Mansfield Torrington (b Toronto 23 Nov 1898, d Genesee, NY, 14 Mar 1953) were also engaged in organ building in Woodstock and formed the short-lived Warren Pipe Organ Co which, among others, manufactured instruments for theatres: the Capitol and the Palace in Montreal; the Belle in Belleville; the Trent in Trenton; Loew's Uptown, Loew's Winter Garden Theatre, and the Pantages (Imperial) Theatre in Toronto; and the Capitol Theatre in Ottawa.

Warren registered several patents pertaining to pipe organ actions and had been on the staff 1927-37 of the Estey Organ Co, after which he was appointed technical director of the Hall Organ Co in West Haven, Conn.

In 1951, the assets of the Woodstock Pipe Organ Co (formerly Karn-Warren) were purchased by B. Keates. This company was joined by the J.C. Hallman Co in 1969. In 1971 Dieter Geissler took over as president of the company, and in 1990 it was operating as Keates-Geissler Pipe Organs Ltd in Acton, Ont.

See also Thomas D. Warren and William Henry Warren (his uncles), and Samuel Prowse Warren (his brother).


Further Reading

  • Raudsepp, Karl. Ms on the Warren family