Kilgen Pipe Organ
Restoring the Pipe Organ at OLR
In 2006 an effort was undertaken to get the historic pipe organ at Our Lady of Refuge in Brooklyn, New York working after nearly a decade of silence. Inspection of the organ revealed that the first priority was to rebuild the bellows, and by January 2007 the organ was playing again for the first time in ten years. In spite of being badly in need of a full restoration, the organ impressed both the parish and the local community, many of whom were hearing it for the first time. After six years of fundraising the pipe organ arrived back at the church on June 17, 2013.The work on the pipe organ is scheduled to be completed by mid September 2013. Olivier Latry, the organist from Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, will dedicate the organ on October 18, 2013.
Now, stepping back in time. While the initial repairs were being carried out in 2007 a more serious problem came to light. The exterior pointing of the church was leaking, allowing water to seep into the organ chamber, threatening both the instrument itself and the structure of the church. Father Michael Perry and Joe Vitacco saw that the pipe organ was professionally removed from the church for safekeeping before the repairs to the interior and exterior walls were carried out.
The parish has raised almost all of the funds to reinstall its historic Kilgen Pipe Organ in the church. Each of the instrument's 1,800 pipes, as well as its mechanism have been restored to like-new condition by A. R. Schopp's Sons and Quimby Pipe Organs. Quimby Pipe Organs is reinstalling the pipe organ. They are noted in NYC for their highly acclaimed removal, restoration and reinstallation of the smoke-damaged pipe organ at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine.
Joe Vitacco, Chairman of the Organ Committee and Fr. Michael Perry, Pastor of the Parish, have used the Internet and various social media in new and entrepreneurial ways to raise the majority of the funds from well over 1000 pipe organ enthusiasts from around the globe. The members of the parish have held soup dinners, concerts and even a pig roast, as well as a sponsor an organ pipe campaign, to raise money for the pipe organ.
When the pipe organ is returned to service, the parish's main goal will be to share this historic pipe organ with the Brooklyn Community. Additionally, the pipe organ will be used at parish's Masses and shared with the organ community as a practice and teaching instrument.
Articles about the pipe organ's restoration:
- Keeping Up With Our Lady Of Refuge's Pipe Organ
- Piper paid! Restoration of 80-year-old organ underway
- After Nearly Seven Years, A Renewed 1933 Pipe Organ Returns To Our Lady Of Refuge
- Historic Organ to Make Music Again in Flatbush (with video and photo slideshow)
- A Pipe Organ Returns to its home in Brooklyn
How far this project has come...
Joe Vitacco thanking everyone who contributed and assisted in the restoration of a Brooklyn Pipe Organ
Glenn Balck the parish musician at Our Lady of Refuge in Brooklyn Talking about the return of the pipe organ
Update on the pipe organ restoration at Our Lady of Refuge in Brooklyn
Our Lady of Refuge Church