John C. B. Standbridge – Composer, Organist, and Organ Builder

J.C.B. Standbridge 1868

Born: 1801

Died: December 15, 1871

Plot: Section 47, Lot 22

John C.B. Standbridge was born in England and emigrated to the United States as a child, settling in Philadelphia. In January of 1828 he married Eleanora Gowing, daughter of John and Mary Gowing. He attended the University of Pennsylvania where he studied medicine.

Standbridge was hired as organist for various prestigious churches in Philadelphia. After accepting the organist post at Old Christ Church, he devoted himself solely to music. He studied, taught and composed music (mostly hymns). In 1840 he began building organs, eventually building a factory to accommodate the large number of orders he received. Through the years, he earned a reputation for excellence. He set high standards for his work and was considered a perfectionist; not allowing an instrument to leave his shop if it did not meet his standards. His organs were installed in many preeminent churches including: St. Brigid Roman Catholic Church in New York, and in Philadelphia: St. Clement’s Episcopal Church, Old Pine Street Presbyterian Church, and The Basilica Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul (dedicated in 1868, this organ cost $10,000).

In 1871, one of his last organs was completed and installed in Arch Street United Methodist Church. The magnificent instrument was installed in the choir loft and had more that 2,300 pipes. The original organ has since been rebuilt, renovated, enlarged and electrified. In May of 1871 a series of concerts by well known organists were held to showcase the new organ. On December 7, 1871 a testimonial concert was performed in Standbridge’s honor to recognize his lifetime achievement; the choir even sang one of the hymns he composed. The timing of this testimonial proved serendipitous as Mr. Standbridge would pass away just 8 days later on December 15. He is buried in Mt. Moriah Cemetery along with is wife and other family members.

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