In 1906, the great earthquake and fire destroyed most of the life's work of Felix F. Schoenstein, founder of Schoenstein & Co. organ builders of San Francisco. Only one example of his tracker organ building skill remains. It is Opus 7 built in 1891 for St. Markus Lutheran Church in San Francisco.
Felix Schoenstein was trained in Germany and came to this country in 1868 to work for Joseph Severin Mayer, pioneer California builder. He established his own firm in 1877. He built fine mechanical-action organs, which evidenced the disciplined skill that his German training provided. Bits and pieces of a few of the instruments survive, but the only one that is intact enough to demonstrate the character of 19th-century Schoenstein organs is Opus 7.
In the 1940s, it was removed from St. Markus Church to S.S. Peter and Paul Church, San Francisco. It was electrified and combined with parts of another instrument. Unfortunately, the building was vastly too large acoustically for this relatively mild and elegant 19th-century instrument.
In 1986, it was removed by Schoenstein & Co. from S.S. Peter and Paul Church and was replaced with an all-new Schoenstein organ designed specifically for the building. Schoenstein & Co. then gave the instrument back to its original home church, St. Mark's Lutheran Church in San Francisco. St. Mark's had planned to have the organ meticulously restored to stand as a fine example of 19th-century American organ building. Unfortunately, the church was unable to carry through its plan and the organ is again available.
Schoenstein & Co. will donate this instrument to any organization that will guarantee to restore it in a suitable fashion to reflect the tonal intentions of the original builder. A starter grant (minimum $25,000) is offered to help with the cost of a suitable renovation and installation.
The instrument will require a large amount of work, including new casework and a new console and action. David Moore has carefully examined the instrument and can answer questions about it. He has in mind several options to re-create this instrument for a church or academic setting. All of the pipes and parts are at his shop.
This instrument represents a rare opportunity for a church or other organization to have a fine 19th-century German Romantic-style instrument at far less than the cost of a modern instrument. Inquiries are invited.
Schoenstein & Co., [email protected] 707/747-5858
A. David Moore Inc., [email protected] 802/457-3914