The pipe organ at Union Chapel in Oak Bluffs was set to be rededicated this summer, 96 years after it was first installed in the historic house of worship. Instead, the chapel is closed for services and the 1924 organ — an Opus 1223 by the Austin Organ Company of Hartford, Conn. — is still in pieces as it undergoes a complete restoration by a Waltham-based organ repair firm.

“We were supposed to be here in April and wrapping up in June,” said Joseph Rotella, the founder of Spencer Organ Company, which specializes in rebuilding vintage electro-pneumatic pipe organs like the Union Chapel instrument. The company has also performed work on the organs at St. Andrews and the Federated Church, both in Edgartown.

The Covid-19 pandemic closed the Spencer workshop for months and has also delayed the manufacturing of replacement parts needed to complete the restoration, Mr. Rotella said.

Joseph Rotella, founder of Spencer Organ Company, has been leading the restoration. — Jeanna Shepard

But he and three of his staff technicians brought some of the organ home to the Vineyard last week, including the air chest containing the valves that make the tuned pipes sing when their keys are pressed.

The Spencer Organ crew also returned more than 40 fully-restored, decorative pipes that had formed the instrument’s original façade until they were removed in a 1960s renovation. Neither worship director William Peek, who has played the organ on summer Sundays since 2013, nor Mr. Rotella was aware of the 1924 façade’s existence until they found the pipes piled, crumpled and corroded in the chapel attic, they said.

The zinc and spotted metal pipes will adorn the organ again when Mr. Rotella and his team complete the restoration, which he and Mr. Peek said is designed to unify partial renovations that were performed on the instrument in the 1930s and again in the 1960s.

Those updates didn’t stop at the appearance of the organ, which went from an ornate 1920s installation bristling with pipes to the more streamlined 1960s look it bore into the 21st century. Elements of its sound changed each time as well, reflecting the taste of the period.

Bill Peek has been the Union Chapel organist since 2013. — Jeanna Shepard

“The challenge has been that the organ was no longer a cohesive instrument,” Mr. Peek said, likening the effect to that of an insensitive house remodel: “You put this Gothic entrance on a Colonial.”

This time, the organ is getting a complete overhaul that will unify its sound. Dismantled last September, its parts were taken to Waltham, where the Spencer crew spent the winter cleaning and repairing them until the pandemic shutdown of non-essential businesses in March.

Mr. Rotella said he’s not sure when the team will return to the Vineyard with more of the organ. Because Spencer is located in the Boston area, where Covid-19 is rife, he is reluctant to expose Islanders to potential infection.

“We take precautions, but we don’t want to bring something to the Vineyard,” he said. “We’re just trying to balance all these things and be respectful.”

In its former glory - soon to be again. — Jeanna Shepard

Looking on the positive side, Mr. Peek noted that Union Chapel was dedicated in 1871, so that a 2021 organ dedication will take place during the chapel’s 150th anniversary year. He also commended the Oak Bluffs Christian Union, which contracted with Spencer Organ, and the Vineyard Trust, which owns the chapel, for supporting the complete restoration.

The chapel’s first organ is unrecorded, but Mr. Peek’s research indicates it was likely a reed organ, powered by bellows that had to be pumped by one or two people.

This pre-electric instrument survived impalement in 1913, when the chapel’s central spire slipped during removal for maintenance and plunged into the organ—which still was worth $300 second-hand in 1924, when the Austin organ was installed.