Balint Karosi demonstrates the Klais / Fisk organ at Saint Peter’s Church, New York City.
Saint Peter’s Church was built in Midtown Manhattan in 1977. Johannes Klais Orgelbau in Bonn, Germany, was commissioned to build a two-manual, 32-stop mechanical-action organ for the new sanctuary. On January 4, 2021, Saint Peter’s suffered a severe trauma in the form of flood damage from the rupture of a municipal water main. Hundreds of thousands of gallons of water surged into the building, causing major damage to the below-ground sanctuary and the basement-level black box theater, community spaces, and administrative offices underneath. A layer of fine muddy silt covered every surface. Mitigation efforts, including rapid dehumidification to prevent a mold outbreak, stressed all wooden furnishings, in particular the pipe organ.
On January 26, twenty-two days after the flood, a crew from the Organ Clearing House arrived to begin dismantling and packing the Klais for shipping. On February 5, the organ parts arrived at the Gloucester workshop of C. B. Fisk, Inc., for evaluation and, eventually, reassembly. The initial plan called for a thorough restoration of the instrument, and a strategy was developed to accomplish that. But after the organ had been standing in the Fisk erecting room for some months, giving all parties opportunity to inspect and fully grasp the organ’s condition, creative minds got to pondering. A gradual evolution in the collective mindset followed—from that of simple restoration to one of reimagination.
The restored and renovated organ is featured on the cover of the February 2024 issue of The Diapason.
To learn more about the instrument and celebratory events, visit