Since 1975, OHS has recognized specific pipe organs as being of distinctive character by presenting certificates of recognition. Initially OHS offered only one award, and by the end of 2011, 409 pipe organs had received Historic Organ Citations.

As a part of ongoing review and general development in all its programs, OHS began a review of the Citations program in 2012. As a result of that review, the Citations program was brought to a close, and in 2013 a new program was instituted: Historic Pipe Organ Awards. Primary features of the Citations program have been retained. The new program continues to place highest value on pipe organs that remain unaltered in their original locations. Further, pipe organs must in general have been maintained in their historic state for at least fifty years before they are considered for an award, although exceptions may be allowed if circumstances warrant. Framed certificates are prepared and presented by an OHS official or designate, usually during a special recital or program or, if appropriate, during a special worship service. The certificates remain the property of OHS and are retained by the owner and displayed publicly so long as the pipe organ retains its historic characteristics.

Though these features of the Citations program have been retained, the Historic Pipe Organ Awards program is distinguished by its new content. It was designed to be in accord with the OHS Guidelines for Conservation and Preservation, and includes different types of awards, each one distinct in the way it recognizes the historic significance of a pipe organ.

General requirements for any Historic Organ Award.

Awards are presented to organs of any period or style or organbuilding, so long at they are installed in a manner appropriate for their style. Instruments in storage or erected temporarily in locations for demonstration purposes are therefore not elegible to receive awards.

An organ must be an example of excellence in organbuilding to receive an award. The specific way excellence is determined in an instrument is up to the collective judgment of the Historic Organ Awards Committee as is considers both mechanical and tonal properties of the organ in question.

An organ must be in an unaltered state for a period of at least 50 years in order to receive an award. It is not necessary for an organ to be in its original home to be eligible, but relocated organs must retain their original mechanical and tonal properties. Similarly, neither restorative repairs nor full restorations prevent an organ from receiving an award, so long as the organ’s tonal and mechanical properties are intact and unaltered. Recent restorations should be made in accordance with the OHS Guidelines for Conservation and Preservation.

On the other hand, organs that have been modified in a significant way may be considered for an award when those modifications have been in use for a period of 50 years or more.

Specific Historic Organ Awards

An organ may be designated a National Heritage Pipe Organ when it meets all general requirements for OHS Historic Organ Awards and is of demonstrated and documented artistic, musical, social or historic value.

An organ may be designated a Landmark of American Organbuilding when it meets all general requirements for OHS Historic Organ Awards, is of demonstrated and documented artistic, musical, social or historic value, and when it also has some distinctive or unique feature that indicates a place of importance in the historical development of organbuilding in the USA.


Anyone can nominate an organ for a Historic Pipe Organ Award: membership in the Society is not required. (Of course, we are always happy to welcome new members, too!) Further details are included in the two links below. The first is to a one-page Awards Application form, which must be submitted as part of the nomination or application for either of the awards listed above. The second is to a detailed description of the information and supporting documents that must accompany any nomination.

We welcome nominations for both the awards. Please address any questions you may have to the Chair of the Historic Organ Awards Committee, Steuart Goodwin.

Historic Pipe Organ Awards Application Form

Historic Pipe Organ Required Support Materials