Pipe Organs of La Grange, Illinois, and the Architectural Edifices That House Them

February 24, 2021
2003 Berghaus Organ Company Opus 215
2003 Berghaus Organ Company Opus 215

Stephen Schnurr, a resident of Gary, Indiana, is editorial director and publisher of The Diapason, director of music for Saint Paul Catholic Church, Valparaiso, Indiana, and adjunct instructor of organ for Valparaiso University. His most recent book, Organs of Oberlin, was published in 2013 by Chauncey Park Press. He has authored several other books and numerous journal articles, principally on pipe organ history in the Great Lakes region.

Part 6: Saint Francis Xavier Catholic Church

This article is a continuation of a series in the August 2015, June 2016, July 2017, February 2018, and June 2018 issues of The Diapason. The information was delivered as a lecture for the Midwinter Pipe Organ Conclave on January 19, 2015, in La Grange, Illinois. The research for this project provides a history of a number of pipe organs in the village, but not all. For instance, organs in residences and theaters are not surveyed.

The mother church of Catholic parishes in La Grange, Saint Francis Xavier, was founded in 1890. The first Mass was said on All Saints’ Day, November 1. Franklin Dwight Cossitt, the real estate developer who founded La Grange, donated property for the new congregation. A frame Gothic church, designed by Chicago architect Alphonse Druiding, was built at a cost of $10,000. The church was dedicated on September 5, 1892.

The cornerstone of the present church was laid on June 1, 1930. Dedication of this edifice in the Italian Renaissance style of Bedford stone and designed by Joe W. McCarthy of Chicago occurred on June 14, 1931. Italian marble was used for the altars, pulpit, altar railing, and sanctuary flooring. The mosaic Stations of the Cross were crafted in Venice. The cost of the building was $400,000, and a considerable debt was carried by the congregation. In 1936, the debt still stood at $350,000, finally paid in 1946.

Geo. Kilgen & Son of Saint Louis, Missouri, supplied its Opus 4524 for the new church, a three-manual, fifteen-rank, electro-pneumatic-action organ installed in chambers above the loft at the rear of the nave. The stop-tongue console was situated in the center of the gallery.

1930 Geo. Kilgen & Sons Opus 4524

GREAT (Manual II, enclosed with Choir)

16′ Contra Gamba 73 pipes

8′ Open Diapason 61 pipes

8′ Melodia 97 pipes

8′ Doppel Flute 73 pipes

8′ Gamba (ext 16′ Contra Gamba)

8′ Dulciana 85 pipes

4′ Octave 61 pipes

4′ Flute (ext 8′ Melodia)

8′ Tuba Harmonic 61 pipes


Great to Great 16

Great Unison Off

Great to Great 4

Swell to Great 16

Swell to Great 8

Swell to Great 4

Choir to Great 16

Choir to Great 8

Choir to Great 4

SWELL (Manual III, enclosed)

16′ Bourdon 97 pipes

8′ Violin Diapason 73 pipes

8′ Stopped Diapason (ext 16′ Bourdon)

8′ Quintadena (synthetic, 16′ Bourdon at 8′ and 2-2⁄3′ pitches)

8′ Salicional 85 pipes

8′ Voix Celeste 73 pipes

4′ Flute d’Amour (ext 16′ Bourdon)

4′ Salicet (ext 8′ Salicional)

2′ Flautino (ext 16′ Bourdon)

8′ Cornopean 73 pipes

8′ Vox Humana 73 pipes


Harp (prepared)

Swell to Swell 16

Swell Unison Off

Swell to Swell 4

CHOIR (Manual I, enclosed with Great)

16′ Dulciana (ext Gt 8′ Dulciana)

8′ Violoncello (fr Gt 8′ Gamba)

8′ Melodia (fr Gt 8′ Melodia)

8′ Dolce (fr Gt 8′ Dulciana)

4′ Flute (fr Gt 8′ Melodia)

4′ Dulcet (ext Gt 8′ Dulciana)

2′ Piccolo (ext Gt 8′ Melodia)

8′ Clarinet (61 pipes)

8′ Orchestral Oboe (synthetic)


Choir to Choir 16 

Choir Unison Off

Choir to Choir 4

Swell to Choir 8


32′ Resultant (16′ Subbass with 16′ Bourdon at 10-2⁄3′ pitch)

16′ Subbass 32 pipes

16′ Bourdon (ext Gt 8′ Doppel Flute)

16′ Lieblich Gedeckt (fr Sw 16′ Bdn)

8′ Cello (fr Gt 8′ Gamba)

8′ Flauto Dolce (fr Sw 16′ Bourdon)

Great to Pedal 8

Swell to Pedal 8

Choir to Pedal 8


4 General pistons (thumb, above Manual III)

4 Great and Pedal pistons (thumb)

4 Swell and Pedal pistons (thumb)

4 Choir and Pedal pistons (thumb)

Great to Pedal reversible (toe)

Balanced Swell expression shoe

Balanced Great and Choir expression shoe

Balanced Crescendo shoe (indicator light)

Sforzando reversible (toe, indicator light)

Wind and Current indicator light


This instrument was replaced in 2003 by a new organ from the Berghaus Organ Company of Bellwood, Illinois.  The two-manual instrument is housed in a free-standing case in the gallery. Key action is electric-slider; stop action is electro-pneumatic. Manual key coverings are bone for naturals, ebony for sharps; pedal coverings are maple for naturals, rosewood for sharps.

2003 Berghaus Organ Company Opus 215

GREAT (Manual I)

16′ Bourdon (61 pipes) 61 pipes

8′ Principal (façade, 75% tin) 61 pipes

8′ Gamba 61 pipes

8′ Rohrflöte 61 pipes

4′ Octave 61 pipes

4′ Koppelflöte 61 pipes

2-2⁄3′ Quinte 61 pipes

2′ Octave 61 pipes

1-3⁄5′ Tierce 61 pipes

IV Mixture (draws 2′ Octave) 183 pipes

8′ Trompette 61 pipes

16′ Trompette Royale (TC, prepared)

8′ Trompette Royale (fr 16′ Trompette)


Swell to Great 16

Swell to Great 8

Swell to Great 4

Chimes (Deagan, Class M) 21 tubes



SWELL (Manual II, enclosed)

8′ Metal Gedackt 61 pipes

8′ Salicional 61 pipes

8′ Voix Céleste (TC) 49 pipes

4′ Principal 61 pipes

4′ Waldflöte 61 pipes

2′ Hohlflöte 61 pipes

1-1⁄3′ Larigot 61 pipes

IV Scharff 244 pipes

16′ Dulzian 61 pipes

8′ Hautbois 61 pipes

16′ Trompette Royale (fr Gt 16′ Tromp)

8′ Trompette Royale (fr Gt 16′ Tromp)


Swell to Swell 16

Swell Unison Off

Swell to Swell 4



16′ Principal 32 pipes

16′ Subbass 32 pipes

8′ Octave (in façade, 75% tin) 32 pipes

8′ Gemshorn 32 pipes

4′ Octave 32 pipes

III Rauschpfeife (added 2019) 96 pipes

16′ Bombarde 32 pipes

4′ Clarion (added 2019) 32 pipes

8′ Trompette Royale (fr Gt 16′ Tromp)

4′ Trompette Royale (fr Gt 16′ Tromp)

Great to Pedal 8

Swell to Pedal 8

Swell to Pedal 4



8 General pistons (thumb and toe)

6 Great pistons (thumb)

6 Swell pistons (thumb)

6 Pedal pistons (toe)

General Cancel (thumb)

Combination Set (thumb)

Great to Pedal reversible (thumb and toe)

Swell to Pedal reversible (thumb and toe)

Swell to Great reversible (thumb)

Zimbelstern reversible (thumb and toe)

8′ Trompette Royale (Gt) reversible (thumb)

Balanced Swell expression shoe

Balanced Trompette Royale expression shoe

Balanced Crescendo shoe (indicator light)

Tutti reversible (thumb and toe, indicator light)

Wind indicator light

Photo caption: 2003 Berghaus Organ Company Opus 215

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