Mass and blessing, reception, and concert are all open to the public and free of charge.
At 84 years old, the Moller pipe organ dates to the time when Messmer was an archbishop rather than a high school and Hoan was a mayor and not a bridge.
The restoration was done by Berghaus Pipe Organ Builders, Inc., some at the church and some at its shop in suburban Chicago. The corporation does organ restorations throughout the country and recently built a new organ for St. Jerome Parish, Oconomowoc, using parts from that parish’s former organ.
Restoration of the SS. Cyril and Methodius/St. Maximilian Kolbe instrument was a huge undertaking. Joe Poland, service coordinator for Berghaus, in a phone conversation from Bellwood, Ill., described the project as “a complete and thorough rebuild.” Only one or two sets of pipes played before the restoration, he said.
Poland felt “the biggest challenge” of the process was “removing the console and getting it down to the main floor” from the church’s choir loft. He called the organ “a perfect example of early American romantic classic. It is built with large-scale pipe work.” Some of the 2,500 pipes are as high as 16 feet. According to a press release issued by the parish, its large-scale pipe work “allows the organ to fill the church and support the congregation in a manner unlike other instruments of comparable size.”
After the organ was dismantled, all its reservoirs were rebuilt and re-leathered, pipes and other elements were thoroughly cleaned (quite possibly for the first time, owing to previous budgetary constraints), the three-keyboard console was refurbished and the organ’s wiring was completely redone so as to be “up to code.” Restoration of the organ occurred from October 2009 to this past March, and involved an average of four to six workers on a daily, full-time basis.
The Berghaus service coordinator said the organ has been “restored to its original condition, its original voicing. The idea was to preserve its original sound” – so that the instrument sounds as it did when played new in 1926. Poland called his involvement in the restoration project “an extremely uplifting experience.”
Dawn Stenbol, secretary for the joint SS. Cyril and Methodius/St. Maximilian Kolbe parish council, called the Berghaus employees “very, very professional, across the board.”
“The organ restoration came about as the people from SS. Cyril and Methodius Parish were developing their goals for the Faith In Our Future campaign,” Stenbol explained.
The project cost slightly more than $300,000.
“A new and similar organ today … would cost at least $800,000,” according to an informational brochure on the restoration project – which also noted that the now renovated organ cost “around $15,000” when built in 1926.
Stenbol noted that the restored instrument “will help the organist (Veronica Fregoso) play the music as it was written, instead of trying to compromise sound based on what parts of the organ were actually working.”
She added, “It was important to restore this beautiful piece of our history before more time passed and it became unusable.”