Catholic CHURCH

Lincoln, NE

In 1887 a new organ built by Johann G. Pfeffer was delivered to St. Mary Catholic Church in Muscatine, IA. It served them well until 1999 when St. Mary’s parish merged with St. Mathias parish. The St. Mary building was deteriorating and it was decided to raze the structure. They launched a nation-wide search to find a new home for their beloved organ so its voice could continue to sing. St. Patrick Catholic Church in Lincoln, NE was beginning a new construction project and was looking for a special organ to include in their new sanctuary. We were contracted to remove the organ from St. Mary, restore it, and install it at St. Patrick.

Johann G. Pfeffer was revered as one of the best Midwestern organ builders of the late nineteenth century. His voicing style remained true to his South-German roots, even as a new American style was developing around him. In spite of Pfeffer’s high standards of quality, few of his organs remain today. It was very important that this restoration preserve as much of the instrument’s historical integrity as possible, while preparing the organ for another 130 years of service in its new home. The pipes were cleaned and repaired as needed. The wind reservoir was releathered along with the feeder bellows so it can be hand-pumped once again. We found the wind chest tables to be badly cracked, causing wind to ‘bleed-through’ to neighboring pipes. The best course of action for long-term stability was to retable the chests. Pallets were releathered as well.  The facade pipes were painted with luminous gold paint, replicating the original metal leaf applied by Pfeffer. New key tops replaced the warped plastic originals and the key action was repaired as needed. The case was meticulously cleaned and missing carving details were replicated. All changes have been documented and records are on file in our office and within the organ case.

The acoustic in St. Patrick’s nave is magnificent, enhanced by the barrel-vaulted ceiling and hard surfaces. Voicing work was kept to a minimum, only correcting speech defects and minor regulation for consistent volume. The organ is played daily for mass, organ lessons, and occasional concerts. We are delighted to have such a fine example of nineteenth century American organ building being shared in Lincoln.

Johann G. Pfeffer & Son
St. Louis, MO

Originally located at
St. Mary Catholic Church,
Muscatine, IA

Manual I

Principal 8
Melodia 8
Gamba 8
Octave 4
Flöte 4
Quinte 2 2/3
Octave 2
Mixtur III

Manual II

Bourdon 16 (Bass/Diskant)
Principal 8
Gedackt 8
Salicional 8
Flöte 4
Flautino 2


Subbass 16
Octave Bass 8


Man I to Pedal
Man II to Pedal

Forte Combination
Piano Combination