Many hands were instrumental in installing Sacred Heart’s ‘new’ organ

Sacred Heart Church’s newly-installed 97-year-old organ was reconfigured to frame the building’s rose and stained glass windows. (Courtesy photo)

Organ blessing, concert Sunday, July 9

Sacred Heart Parish will host a solemn vespers and blessing of its organ at 4 p.m. Sunday, July 9. A short concert will follow along with a reception. The church is located at 311 S. Fifth in Colwich.

Sacred Heart Church’s newly-installed organ is nearly a century old but a renovation of the 97-year-old Estey Pipe Organ will help the Colwich parish worship for decades to come.

Luke Headley, a pipe organ curator and member of St. Joseph Parish, Wichita, said the instrument was crafted in 1926 by the Estey Pipe Organ Company of Brattleboro, Vermont.

The organ, opus 2462, was built for the Second Congregational church in Elyria, Ohio, he said. Tonal revisions were made in 1970 and in 2018 it was purchased by Troy Lucassian who packed it up and moved it to Detroit. He offered the organ to Sacred Heart in 2022.

“He was gracious enough to help load it in the trailer for its long trip to Kansas,” Headley said.

Adjustments made for the ‘new’ organ

Many alterations were required to make the organ fit and to update it to the standards required for the parish – including a more traditional console to replace the 1970 console. A console holds the manual, pedals, and stop controls.
“The original organ would have covered the stained glass window so to avoid that we came up with a design with two towers of each side of the window that sweep down beneath the window,” he said.

Several parishioners have been instrumental in the installation.

Bruce Seiler built the internal structure for the swell box, a container that has a large opening covered with moveable shutters allowing for the adjustment of the loudness of the sound. He also painted the front pipes gold and helped in other ways.

He and his wife Theresa, provided the transportation for the organ’s journey to Colwich from Detroit.
Brad Hageman designed the organ’s casework from the original concept and completed it with the help of several parishioners.

Can hold over 1,000 pipes

Sacred Heart’s organ has 14 ranks containing 869 pipes. It has blank stops that will allow additions to the organ totaling 1,186 pipes.

“One of the most important aspects of an organ is the room in which it sits,” Headley said. “The room can make or break an instrument.”

The church’s new organ came from an acoustically dry environment where it was buried in a chamber, he said, but is now sitting aloft in a shallow case in Sacred Heart’s rich acoustic surroundings.

“It really sings well in the church,” Headley added.

“To be able to do this is special. It’s an honor. The craftsmanship of that era was very high and to be able to preserve that and enhance it, give it new life, and give it a new home, it’s very exciting.”

Fr. Pat York reflects on installation

Sacred Heart’s pastor, Fr. Pat York, had several cogent reflections on the installation.

“It’s taken over 100 years before something was put there that should have been there all along,” he said. “It looks like it was designed and built for the church.”

He added that he enjoys looking up while celebrating Mass and seeing the beautiful casework that frames the windows. “It could be a bit of a distraction, but I’m used to it now.”

The organ is a wonderful addition to the solemnity of the Mass, Fr. York said.

“People have responded remarkably to it. They didn’t realize how much it was needed until after it was there.”