St. Joseph's Church, Chicago, Illinois
(Chicago, IL) St. Joseph's Church will celebrate the installation of
its majestic pipe organ on October 18, 1998, more than 15 years since
the church's steeple collapsed, sending several large pieces of stone
from the tower through the roof and into the organ. Over 4,000 hours
of work over the course of the past year by Evanston-based Bradford
Organ Company, and the generous support of a Chicago-area benefactor,
reclaimed this king of instruments for the St. Joseph's congregation
and the Near Northside neighborhood which it serves.
Bradford Organ Company, a firm which builds new pipe organs and
specializes in the restoration of high quality older instruments,
restored the beautiful case and facade of St. Joseph's original organ.
Bradford then installed a different pipe organ inside that case: a
Hutchings organ originally built for a church in Cambridge,
Massachusetts in 1892. This makes St. Joseph's pipe organ one of the
rare remnants of the highly regarded 19th Century Hutchings firm, and
the only restored Hutchings in Chicago. The instrument has 1,681
pipes and utilizes the Peterson electronic controls used in many
modern pipe organs.
Roger Fisher, a retired businessman of Ivanhoe, Illinois and the
benefactor of the pipe organ restoration is a former student of the
church's pastor, Father Sebastian Lewis. Fisher explains that his
relationship with Father Lewis goes back 47 years to his student days
at St. Bede Academy in Peru, Illinois, but that his involvement with
the pipe organ began as soon as he saw it. "Father Sebastian has
always been an inspiration to me --- he was in the forefront of many
movements long before they became fashionable. A few years ago I went
to a Founders Day mass at St Joseph's. I was awed by the beauty of
the sanctuary, but when I went up to take communion I saw the choir
loft and organ and wondered why they didn't work. When you look at
that organ you KNOW that it belongs in that church. I wanted to help
save that pipe organ."
Father Sebastian Lewis, O.S.B. has served the congregation of St.
Joseph's since January 1, 1960 and has been very active in various
educational efforts and community service programs, including the
Archdiocesan Office of Urban Affairs. Father Lewis indicates that the
restored pipe organ will be used in regular services, and other
ceremonies such as weddings and recitals.
Roger Stanley will be the performing organist at the pipe organ
dedication ceremony in October, which will be open to the public. The
entrance to St. Joseph's Church is located on Orleans two blocks south
Scope of the Rebuild Project
Before the Renovation: The organ's chests and pipework had been
destroyed under a collapsed roof. Its case had been severely damaged,
but was capable of restoration. Its detached console was dilapidated
but was left undamaged by the event.
After the Renovation: The case was fully restored, including
restenciling of its original Victorian facade pipes. The broken organ
chests and pipework were discarded and replaced with an 1892 Hutchings
organ of 27 ranks, which was moved to Chicago from its original home
in Cambridge, MA and fully restored. St. Jospeh's own organ console
will be used to play the Hutchings: it was refinished and fitted with
a Peterson solid state relay and a Peterson 32-level combination
Father Sebastian Lewis, St. Joseph's Church, can be reached at 312 - 787 - 7174.
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