Saint Mary's Roman Catholic Church

516 Fillmore Street
Davenport, IA 52802

Builder: Moline Organ Co
Manuals: 2
Ranks: 18
Compass: 58/27
Stops: 18
Action: Mechanical/slider chests

Notes: Organ Historical Society as of 2012. Photo from church.

16' Sub Bass 58 (wood)
8' Open Diapason 58 (metal)
8' Dulciana 58 (metal)
8' Melodia 58 (wood)
4' Principal 58 (metal)
4' Flute d' Amour 58 (wood)&m
2.2/3' Twelfth 58 (metal)
2' Fifteenth 58 (metal)
8' Trumpet 58 (metal)

8' Open Diapason 58 (wood & metal)
8' Salicional 51 (metal, 1-7 from St. Diap.)
8' Stopped Diapason 58 (wood)
8' Quintadena 58 (metal)
4' Fugara 58 (metal)
2' Violini 58 (metal)
8' Oboe (TC) 46 (metal)
8' Bassoon 12 (metal)
Tremolo (original label missing)

16' Grand Open Diapason 27 (wood)
16' Lieblich Bourdon 27 (wood)
Pedale Check

“Moline” was an active builder of parlor organs and church organs during the last quarter of the 19th Century. The company was established by Johannes Peterson in 1871 shortly after he immigrated to America from his native Sweden. In 1881 Moline established his firm as “Moline Cabinet Organ Company”, and then changed it to “The Moline Organ Company” in 1888.

This is an excerpt from a story in our local paper about the organ in a Catholic church that is closing, St. Mary's in Davenport.

In addition to planning ceremonies, Anderson and others have taken up the cause of finding a new home for the church’s organ, believed to be the oldest playing pipe organ in the Mississippi River Valley.

It is the organ for which Anderson feels the most affinity. That’s partly because he grew up with it and partly because it is a uniquely magnificent musical instrument. “I sang with her as a child,” Anderson said. “As a working class kid in a family of five, I didn’t know of the Quad-City Symphony Orchestra, but I did know the majesty of sound of a real organ.”

The organ was built by the Moline Pipe Organ Co., founded by two men from London [sic]. It contains 1,000 pipes, ranging from 16 feet tall that have the lowest “voice” to about two feet tall [sic] that have the highest. One not familiar with organs can easily get lost as Anderson extols, with growing excitement and detail, all the features of the “voice of St. Mary’s.”

There are the double keyboard, the pedals and the mechanisms that can change the sound to that of a trumpet, flute, violin or bass and that can allow the player to sound four octaves [sic] simultaneously. Because it is impossible to describe in words how magnificent the organ sounds, a concert has been scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 10, on the grounds so that people can hear for themselves. The concert’s goal of finding a new home for the instrument. And because not every musician is capable of playing an organ to its full potential, Anderson has hired Chris Nelson, organist and music director at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Davenport, to perform the concert. Nelson, who also is on the music faculty at Augustana College, Rock Island, is expected to “play the socks off her,” Anderson said. The concert “will awaken our sleeping beauty,” he continued. “They (the audience) will be shocked when they hear her.” In order for people to hear from their outside seats, the windows of the church will be open and a speaker system will be set up. Following the concert, there will be ‘open bench’ opportunity in which organists who would like to play the historic organ can do so for 10-minute intervals. “This is a church organ and this is a church, but this is not a church service,” Anderson said.

Musicians can play the Beatles and Queen if they want. “We welcome them to come and surprise us.” Because the organ is such a treasure, the group is hoping to save it by raising $50,000 to have an organ specialist “take it apart, fix what needs fixing and move her” to an entity that will use it, Anderson said. “A pipe organ is a living and breathing thing,” he explained. If it is not cared for and played, “it will just die and get to the point where it won’t be affordable to fix. “All we need is a new home for her.”