The first time I ever knew that pipe organs went by their makers’ names was after the Ash Wednesday earthquake in 2001, when it was reported that the “world-famous Flentrop” at St. Mark’s Cathedral had broken loose and needed as much as a quarter million dollars in repairs.
On a spectacular September Sunday last fall, I encountered another very special Seattle organ at a small recital at the Church of the Ascension in Magnolia Village. I was there to hear Susanna Valleau (an accomplished concert organist who happens to be the niece of a friend) play on the Fritts. What a stunner. With its silvery pipes encased in intricate wood carvings soaring behind the altar, the organ’s appearance dazzles as much as the majestic sound its 29 stops deliver. An earlier organ had fallen prey to a rat infestation—leather straps, pipes, wiring, and all. The replacement was custom made for the church and its acoustics in 1999, handcrafted by a renowned organ builder in Tacoma, Paul Fritts and Company, whose magnificent instruments can be found all over the country. I had no idea.
Seattle keeps many such hiding-in-plain-sight secrets, special places known to insiders and cognoscenti, little-known or forgotten-about spots that get lost in our perpetual pursuit of the new. Hence, our cover story this month, a celebration of the city’s lesser-known—but no less outstanding—sights, eats, and services.
We’re also looking to the year ahead this month. Style editor Laura Cassidy reached out to sartorially savvy Seattleites who let us in on their style resolutions for 2014. Judging by what these designers, stylists, store owners, and artists told us, we’ll be inspired by carefully chosen accessories, clean lines, and thoughtful attention to detail in the months to come. But far and away, the most important fashion statements are the ones that let people be true to their own identities and states of mind.
The biggest change of all for 2014, the one that may have the most impact on the city, is the election of our new mayor. When Ed Murray takes office this month, he’ll have plenty to do, not least because we invited several civic leaders and activists to help make a list for him.
One more thing. Should you find yourself sitting before the Paul Fritts organ at the Church of the Ascension, look closely and you’ll spy a rat—a fanciful homage to the vermin that sabotaged the previous organ.