Fundraising for the restoration of McAllister Memorial Presbyterian Church’s Holtkamp pipe organ is within striking distance of its goal of $87,138.

More than $80,000 has been raised in less than 12 months.

“When announced last July, our goal seemed daunting,” said organist Beth Dreszer. “Today, not quite 12 months later, we are in the final stretch for the top, and the goal is just at our fingertips.”

A little over $6,100 is still needed to fund the fifth phase of the restoration. This involves the keydesk, pedalboard, stop tablets and combination action.

“This final phase of the restoration has the greatest impact on the organist’s interaction with and control of the instrument,” Mrs. Dreszer explained.

“The renovations will regulate and improve keyboard touch, increase the available number of presets and allow for greater flexibility in support of church services.”

Many of the switches and electrical components to be upgraded or replaced in this phase of the restoration are approaching 50 years of age.

“McAllister Memorial’s members and friends have given so generously,” said Mrs. Dreszer, adding that contributions have come from throughout the Alleghany Highlands, and other parts of Virginia, including Amherst, Roanoke, Hardy, Hot Springs, Eagle Rock, Richmond, Reedsville “and a few cities and towns in between.”

Outside Virginia, Mrs. Dreszer said, contributions to the Organ Restoration Fund have come from “friends and family” in Arizona, Wyoming, Kansas, South Carolina, Alabama, Maryland, Delaware, Texas and California.

“Many of these gifts were often made in honor and remembrance of family members and friends,” she said.

As fundraising approaches its goal, the actual work of restoring the organ is progressing on schedule. The Great and Swell divisions of the organ have been restored and returned to service. 

Restoration of the Pedal division is in progress with the Pedal division pipework expected to be reinstalled later this month.

The Holtkamp pipe organ at McAllister Memorial was originally installed and dedicated during the summer of 1974. The organ has 17 stops and 1,075 pipes.

“At the time of its dedication, McAllister members understood that the organ was to be a permanent part of the architecture of the church’s sanctuary which would glorify God as much when silent as when it is played,” said Mrs. Dreszer, a lifelong member of the church who was nine years old at the time of the dedication. “Today, people’s generosity will carry that understanding forward another 40-50 years into the future.”

McAllister Memorial Presbyterian Church is located at 900 N. Alleghany Avenue in Covington. The Rev. Jim Moss serves as pastor of the church.


Andy Dreszer, left, provides a helping hand as Thomas Rohlfs of Rohlfs Pipe Organ Service, LLC, of Rocky Mount removes a pipe from the organ at McAllister Memorial Presbyterian Church in Covington. Restoration efforts to the organ that was installed in 1974 continue as the church nears its goal of $87,138 for the project. More than $80,000 has now been raised in a little less than a year. (Gavin Dressler Photo)