Former Sackville, N.B. church pipe organ finds new home in Illinois

A 1928 Casavant pipe organ that once stood in a Sackville, N.B., church has found a new home in the United States.

'A gift from God'

"It was literally a gift from God. It just fit perfectly and it was a beautiful organ," said Ed Eicker, music director at the organ's new home in St. Paul of the Cross Catholic Church in Park Ridge, Ill., near Chicago.

The organ was rescued by its Quebec-based manufacturer Casavant Freres two years ago when the Sackville United Church was torn down.

That was around the same time that Eicker was looking for a replacement organ. 

But bringing the organ and its 1,952 pipes to its new home was pricey.

Restoration and installation cost

Eicker estimated the restoration and installation cost about $650,000 while upgrades and building improvements brought the total cost to $800,000-$900,000, he said. 

Despite the cost, Eicker said there is something special about organs from the 1920s, or the "golden age."

He explained on Shift NB that the Casavant organ was built with better materials, such as black walnut casing, but also the organ has a better sound than newer instruments.

'An orchestra at your fingertips'

"These organs have a very lush and full sound. Very deep bass," Eicker said. 

"You sort of feel like you do have an orchestra at your fingertips. You can go from extremely quiet to extremely loud."

Eicker said that music is as important to a congregation and a church service as hospitality and the sermon. 

But moreover, Eicker notes that organ playing is fading from university music programs. Given this, he hopes that the church's organ raises awareness about the history of the instrument and attracts younger musicians. 

"I think it's really important because there is a legacy when it comes to organ building and organ music in general," he said.

Listen to the full interview.