St. Patrick’s fights to save history; organ committee works to raise money

St. Patrick's fights to save history; organ committee works to raise money
St. Patrick's Catholic Church has dominated the skyline of the Wakonda community since 1904. Within its brick walls, there is a different sort of dominating feature.

Originally, Ella Dwyer Donahue played the old pump organ. However, in 1917, the McMunigal family donated the current pipe organ. The organ was built by the Estey Organ Company of Brattleboro, VT.

After the organ arrived, it was erected, tuned, and voiced to the acoustics of the church by a representative of the Estey Organ Company. A dedicating recital was given on Dec. 28, 1917.

The organ was faithfully played by Carol Schaefer until her retirement in 1962. From 1962 to 1979 various high school girls tended the organ, and since 1979 Mrs. James Donahue has held the position.

The organ is now nearing its 90th birthday, and with age comes the need for maintenance. Currently, many stops on the organ are no longer usable, and the pump needs replacement. The organ is one of roughly 11 organs like it left in the Midwest, and one of about seven left in the state.

The parish formed an Organ Committee to raise money for and manage the organ. Linda Peterson, Marcia Morrison, Cathy Ganschow, and Cindi Nelson are all members of the committee.

Recently, close to 98 percent of the parish voted to fully restore the organ to its original condition over other ideas, such as buying an electronic organ.

The project will take close to two years to complete, as well as over $50,000. However, if the organ will last another 90 years, it's well worth the work to maintain a piece of local and state history.

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