Pipe Organs of La Grange, Illinois, Part 8: Grace Lutheran Church

June 27, 2021
Grace Lutheran Church, La Grange, IL
Grace Lutheran Church, La Grange, IL

Stephen Schnurr is editorial director and publisher of The Diapason, director of music for Saint Paul Catholic Church, Valparaiso, Indiana, and adjunct instructor in organ for Valparaiso University.

This article is the final installment of a series in the August 2015, June 2016, July 2017, February 2018, June 2018, March 2021, and May 2021 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.

Grace Lutheran Church of La Grange was organized on April 14, 1887, as the Swedish Lutheran Church, the sixth congregation founded in the village. The lot at the southeast corner of Ogden and South Kensington Avenues was purchased the next month for $600. In June, an architect’s plan for a church measuring twenty feet by fifty feet was accepted, and ground was broken. The basement portion of the church was dedicated on September 25, 1887. The remainder of the structure was completed for dedication on October 8, 1895. This church was served by a reed organ.

Reverend Alfred Ostrom was called as first resident pastor in 1897 at a salary of $600 per year, plus a Christmas Day collection. A musician, he served as an editor of the first English hymnal of the Augustana Synod in 1901. In 1904, the congregation took the name Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Emmaus Church of La Grange. Reflecting the change of language for services from Swedish to English, the congregation became known as Emmaus Evangelical Lutheran Church in 1922.

In 1926, a committee was formed to plan for much-needed larger facilities, to be built on newly acquired property across Ogden Avenue. That year, the congregation became known as Grace English Lutheran Church, though “English” was dropped in 1927.

On the church’s fortieth anniversary in April 1927, a campaign was announced for the new structure. Ground was broken in October 1928, with the cornerstone laid the following month for a redbrick Gothic edifice with stone trim. Architects were Harry K. Culver and Walter C. Eden, the latter a member of the church. The nave seated 350 persons, and sliding doors to the adjoining hall provided overflow for an additional 125. Dedication occurred on June 2, 1929, with three services. Additions were made to the building in 1950 and 1966. The sanctuary was renovated to its present configuration in preparation for the congregation’s 125th anniversary celebration in 2012.

The original church still stands and was for some time home to another congregation, Grace and Truth Gospel Chapel. It has since been converted into a private residence.

For the present sanctuary, M. P. Möller of Hagerstown, Maryland, provided its opus 5522 costing $4,200. The contract was dated January 30, 1929, with completion set for June 1 of that year. An addition was typed onto the standard Möller contract stating that the builder “guarantees the workmanship, material, and tone qualities of this organ to be equal or superior to any organ built.” Wind pressure was five inches. The Echo division, never installed, was to be in a chamber provided near the rear of the nave, at second-floor level. A second tonal opening was located in the ceiling of an adjoining dining room. The organ was dedicated in service on June 4, 1929, two days after the church itself.

1929 M. P. Möller Opus 5522

GREAT (Manual I, enclosed)

8′ Open Diapason 73 pipes (scale 40, wood bass)

8′ Concert Flute 73 pipes

8′ Dulciana (scale 56) 73 pipes

4′ Solo Flute (ext 8′ Concert Flute)

4′ Dulcet (ext 8′ Dulciana)

Tremulant

Chimes (“Silent stop”)

SWELL (Manual II, enclosed)

16′ Bourdon 97 pipes

8′ Stopped Diapason (ext 16′ Bourdon)

8′ Salicional (scale 60) 73 pipes

8′ Voix Celeste (TC, scale 62) 61 pipes

4′ Flute d’Amour (ext 16′ Bourdon)

4′ Violina (ext 8′ Salicional)

2-2⁄3′ Nazard (ext 16′ Bourdon)

8′ Cornopean (“Small scale”) 73 pipes

8′ Vox Humana 61 pipes (scale 40, wood bass)

Tremulant

ECHO (Manual I, prepared at console)

8′ Echo Flute 73 pipes

8′ Muted Viole 61 pipes

8′ Vox Angelica 61 pipes

4′ Wahl [sic] Flute (ext 8′ Echo Flute)

Tremulant

PEDAL

16′ Sub Bass 44 pipes

16′ Lieblich Gedeckt (Swell, 16′ Bdn.)

8′ Bass Flute (ext 16′ Sub Bass)

Couplers

Great to Pedal

Swell to Pedal

Great to Great 16

Great Unison Off

Great to Great 4

Swell to Great 16

Swell to Great 8

Swell to Great 4

Swell to Swell 16

Swell Unison Off

Swell to Swell 4

Echo to Great

Echo On/Great Off

Adjustable Combinations

3 Full Organ

4 Great and Pedal and Cancel

4 Swell and Pedal and Cancel

3 Echo Organ

Accessories

Great to Pedal reversible (toe)

Balanced Swell expression shoe

Balanced Great expression shoe

Balanced Crescendo shoe (with indicator light)

Sforzando reversible (toe)

The congregation began to consider rebuilding and enlarging the organ or replacing it entirely in early 1957. A committee focused on proposals from the Aeolian-Skinner Organ Co., Casavant Frères, Limitée, and M. P. Möller, Inc. The initial concept was to expand the existing organ chambers to either side of the chancel, involving small additions to the building. An initial proposal from Möller, June 7, 1957, called for a modest instrument with Great, Swell I, Swell II, Antiphonal, Pedal, and Antiphonal Pedal divisions, showing the influence of Ernest White’s tonal direction. The Aeolian-Skinner, Casavant, and Möller proposals were sent (without builder identification) to several Chicago area organ experts, with opinions and comparisons received from Edward Eigenschenk (American Conservatory and Second Presbyterian Church), Heinrich Fleischer (University of Chicago and DePaul University), Austin Lovelace (First Methodist Church and Northwestern University, Evanston), and Stanley Martin (Emmanuel Episcopal Church, La Grange, and the Chicago Sunday Evening Club). The overwhelming response was in favor of the Möller proposal, though several had caveats.

A revised Möller proposal dated February 24, 1958, abandons the divided Swell plan and enlarged the Antiphonal division, so that it would be more useful in leading the congregation from the rear of the nave. An 8′ Principal was also added to the Great specification. By May of that year, Grace Church was contemplating placing most of the organ in the rear gallery. With this change of focus, the chambers in the chancel would be reused for an antiphonal organ for the gallery instrument.

A contract dated September 11, 1958, was signed for Möller Opus 9325, in the amount of $45,400, with completion set for December 1, 1959. Perhaps recalling a certain condition of the 1929 contract, this one stated, “The organ shall be a distinctive work of the builder, a product of his factory, and in no way an assembled instrument.” A three-manual gallery organ was provided, and the old organ was rebuilt as a two-manual chancel instrument, played from the gallery console. The church’s choirs moved from the chancel to the gallery. For the gallery organ, wind pressures were three-and-a-half inches for the Great, four inches for the Swell, Choir, and Pedal.

1959 M. P. Möler opus 9325

GREAT (Manual II)

16′ Quintade 73 pipes (scale 46, 24 zinc basses, remainder spotted metal)

8′ Principal 61 pipes (scale 46, 24 zinc basses, remainder spotted metal)

8′ Holzgedackt 61 pipes (“Reg. Stopped Flute Bass & Treble,” wood and metal)

8′ Quintaton (ext 16′ Quintade)

4′ Octave 61 pipes (scale 58, spotted metal)

2′ Waldflöte 61 pipes (scale 68, 3⁄4 taper, spotted metal)

III Rks. Fourniture 183 pipes (spotted metal)

Tremolo

Chimes 20 tubes (“present Antiphonal,” from tenor A)

SWELL (Manual III, enclosed)

8′ Rohrpfeife 61 pipes (scale 56, 12 zinc basses, remainder spotted metal)

8′ Viola 61 pipes (scale 52, 12 zinc basses, remainder spotted metal)

8′ Viola Celeste 54 pipes (from low G, scale 54, 5 zinc basses, remainder spotted metal)

4′ Suavial 61 pipes (scale 60, spotted metal)

2′ Zauberflöte 61 pipes (scale 62, spotted metal)

III Rks. Plein Jeu 183 pipes (spotted metal)

16′ Cor Anglais 61 pipes (half length, 4″ scale, “English Horn Pattern”)

8′ Trompette 61 pipes (12 basses half length)

4′ Hautbois 61 pipes (3″ scale, “Reg. Oboe Full Length”)

Tremolo

CHOIR (Manual I, enclosed)

16′ Gemshorn 73 pipes (scale 40, 1⁄3 taper, 24 zinc basses, remainder spotted metal)

8′ Bordon 61 pipes (scale 56, 12 zinc basses, remainder spotted metal)

8′ Gemshorn (ext 16′ Gemshorn)

4′ Koppelflöte 61 pipes (scale 64, spotted metal)

2′ Doublette 61 pipes (scale 72, spotted metal)

II Rks. Sesquialtera 122 pipes (spotted metal)

8′ Krummhorn 61 pipes (1″ scale, “Brass Treble”)

Tremolo

PEDAL

16′ Sub Bass  32 pipes (“Large Pedal Bdn., Low Lip, Large Ears”)

16′ Quintade (Great, 16′ Quintade)

16′ Gemshorn (Choir, 16′ Gemshorn)

8′ Geigen 44 pipes (scale 45, 17 zinc basses, remainder spotted metal)

8′ Quintaton (Great, 16′ Quintaton)

8′ Gemshorn (Choir, 16′ Gemshorn)

4′ Oktav (ext 8′ Geigen)

4′ Quintaton (Great 16′ Quintaton)

II Rks. Grave Mixture 88 pipes (5 zinc basses, remainder spotted metal)

II Rks. Rauschquinte (ext II Rks. Grave Mixture)

CHANCEL GREAT (Enclosed)

8′ Harfenprinzipal 73 pipes (new pipes, old action, scale 50, 12 zinc basses, remainder spotted metal)

8′ Concert Flute 73 pipes (old pipes and action, “Reg. Concert FLT,” wood and metal)

4′ Octave (ext 8′ Harfenprinzipal)

4′ Flute (ext 8′ Concert Flute)

III Rks. Mixture 183 pipes (new pipes, old Diapason action, spotted metal)

CHANCEL SWELL (Enclosed)

16′ Gedeckt 85 pipes (old pipes and action, “Reg. Man. Bdn.”)

8′ Gedeckt (ext 16′ Gedeckt)

8′ Salicional 61 pipes (old pipes and action, scale 60, 12 zinc basses, remainder spotted metal)

4′ Spitzprinzipal 73 pipes (new pipes, old action, scale 60, 3⁄4 taper, spotted metal)

4′ Gedeckt (ext 16′ Gedeckt)

2′ Octavin (ext 4′ Spitzprinzipal)

1-1⁄3′ Nasat 61 pipes (new pipes, old Vox Humana action, scale 80, 2⁄3 taper, spotted metal)

8′ Fagotto 61 pipes (new pipes, old Cornopean action, 2-1⁄4′′ scale, half length, “Open Oboe”)

Tremolo

CHANCEL PEDAL

16′ Bourdon 44 pipes (old pipes and action, “Reg. Ped. Bdn.”)

16′ Gedeckt (Chancel Swell, 16′ Gedeckt)

8′ Bourdon (ext 16′ Bourdon)

8′ Gedeckt (Chancel Swell, 16′ Gedeckt)

4′ Gedeckt (Chancel Swell, 16′ Gedeckt)

Couplers

Great to Pedal 8

Swell to Pedal 8

Swell to Pedal 4

Choir to Pedal 8

Choir to Pedal 4

Chancel Great to Pedal 8

Chancel Swell to Pedal 8

Chancel Swell to Pedal 4

Great Unison Off

Swell to Great 8

Swell to Great 4

Choir to Great 8

Choir to Great 4

Chancel Swell to Great 8

Chancel Swell to Great 4

Choir to Choir 16

Choir Unison Off

Choir to Choir 4

Great to Choir 8

Swell to Choir 8

Swell to Choir 4

Swell to Swell 16

Swell Unison Off

Swell to Swell 4

Chancel Swell Unison Off

Chancel Swell 4 to Swell 4

Adjustable Combinations

8 General pistons (thumb, 5–8 toe)

6 Great Organ pistons (thumb)

3 Chancel Great Organ pistons (thumb)

6 Swell Organ pistons (thumb)

3 Chancel Swell Organ pistons (thumb)

6 Choir Organ pistons (thumb)

6 Pedal and Chancel Pedal pistons (toe)

General Cancel (thumb)

Combination adjustor (thumb)

Accessories

Great to Pedal reversible (thumb and toe)

Swell to Pedal reversible (thumb and toe)

Choir to Pedal reversible (thumb and toe)

Balanced Swell and Chancel Swell expression shoe

Balanced Choir expression shoe

Balanced Chancel Great expression shoe

Balanced Crescendo shoe (with 3 indicator lights)

Gallery-Both-Chancel thumb pistons

Chancel Swell to Chancel Great expression shoe reversible (with indicator light)

Tutti reversible (thumb and toe, with indicator light)

Cancel tabs over stop groups

In 1993, the Möller organ was thoroughly rebuilt by Dan Vaughan of Phoenix, Arizona. The organ’s action was converted to all-electric. Much of the Möller pipework was retained for the new instrument. In 2001, Ericksen, Christian, and Associates of Glen Ellyn, Illinois, replaced the Great 8′ Principal, 4′ Octave, and 2′ Fifteenth with new pipes supplied by Rieger-Kloss of the Czech Republic.

1993 Dan Vaughan organ

GREAT (Manual II)

16′ Quintaten 61 pipes

8′ Principal 61 pipes

8′ Holz Gedeckt 73 pipes

4′ Octave 61 pipes

4′ Gedeckt (ext 8′ Holz Gedeckt)

2′ Fifteenth 61 pipes

III Fourniture 183 pipes

8′ Trompette 61 pipes

Chimes (tenor A) 21 tubes

Zimbelstern

SWELL (Manual III, enclosed)

8′ Principal 61 pipes

8′ Rohr Flute 73 pipes

8′ Viola 61 pipes

8′ Viole Celeste (low G) 54 pipes

4′ Octave 61 pipes

4′ Rohr Gedeckt (ext 8′ Rohr Flute)

2′ Flautina 61 pipes

III Plein Jeu 183 pipes

16′ Cor Anglais 73 pipes

8′ Trumpet 61 pipes

8′ Trompette (Great, 8′ Trompette)

8′ Hautbois (ext 16′ Cor Anglais)

4′ Clarion 61 pipes

Tremolo

CHOIR (Manual I, enclosed)

8′ Bourdon 61 pipes

8′ Gemshorn 61 pipes

4′ Koppelflote 61 pipes

2-2⁄3′ Nazard 61 pipes

2′ Principal 61 pipes

1-3⁄5′ Tierce 61 pipes

1′ Twenty-Second (fr 2′ Principal)

8′ Krummhorn 61 pipes

Tremolo

Choir Unison

Choir to Choir 4

PEDAL

32′ Resultant (fr 16′ Bourdon)

16′ Principal 56 pipes

16′ Sub Bass 32 pipes

16′ Bourdon 12 pipes (ext Choir 8′ Bourdon)

16′ Gedeckt (Chancel Swell, 16′ Bourdon)

16′ Gemshorn 12 pipes (ext Choir 8′ Gemshorn)

8′ Principal (ext 16′ Principal)

8′ Bourdon (Choir 8′ Bourdon)

8′ Gedeckt (Chancel Sw 16′ Gedeckt)

4′ Octave (ext 16′ Principal)

4′ Bourdon (Choir 4′ Koppel Flote)

2′ Super Octave (fr Great 4′ Octave)

III Cornet 96 pipes

16′ Bombarde (Swell 16′ Trumpet)

8′ Trumpet (Swell, 8′ Trumpet)

4′ Hautbois (Swell, 8′ Hautbois)

CHANCEL GREAT (Manual II)

8′ Bauerflote 85 pipes

4′ Lieblich Flote (ext 8′ Bauerflote)

2′ Bauerflote (ext 8′ Bauerflote)

1′ Lieblich Flote (fr 8′ Bauerflote)

III Cymbal 183 pipes

CHANCEL SWELL (Manual III, enclosed)

16′ Gedeckt 97 pipes

8′ Gedeckt (ext 16′ Gedeckt)

8′ Salicional 61 pipes

4′ Spitz Principal 73 pipes

4′ Gedeckt (ext 16′ Gedeckt)

2-2⁄3′ Nazard (ext 16′ Gedeckt)

2′ Flute (ext 16′ Gedeckt)

1-1⁄3′ Larigot (ext 4′ Spitz Principal)

8′ Fagotto 61 pipes

Tremolo

Swell to Swell 4

Inter-divisional Couplers

Great to Pedal 8

Great to Pedal 4

Swell to Pedal 8

Swell to Pedal 4

Choir to Pedal 8

Choir to Pedal 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 to Choir 16

Swell to Choir 8

Swell to Choir 4

Accessories

8 Full Organ pistons (thumb), 1–4 and 8 (toe)

6 Great pistons (thumb)

6 Swell pistons (thumb)

6 Choir pistons (thumb)

3 Chancel Great pistons (thumb)

3 Chancel Swell pistons (thumb)

2 Pedal pistons (toe)

General Cancel (thumb)

Comb. Adjuster (thumb)

Midi 1–8

Great to Pedal reversible (thumb and toe)

Swell to Pedal reversible (thumb and toe)

Choir to Pedal reversible (thumb and toe)

Gallery/Chancel/Both (thumb)

Balanced Swell expression shoe

Balanced Choir expression shoe

Balanced Chancel Swell expression shoe

Balanced Crescendo shoe (with three green indicator lights)

Tutti reversible (thumb and toe, with red indicator light)

Wind indicator (white)

Memory Level/Show/Player/Gt.-Ch. Rev./Transp. Up/Transp. Down (thumb)

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