Saint Peter's Evangelical Lutheran Church (WELS)

427 W. Mulberry Street
St. Peter, MN 56082

Builder: Walker, J.W., 1987.
Manuals: 2
Ranks: 23
Action: Mechanical

Notes: The original organ at St. Peter Lutheran was a small Wangerin (not documented) in a front left chamber behind a velvet drape, built in the early years of the 20th Century. When the tremolo was on the drape shook violently.

Under music/education director Leon Raether, the church engaged Dr. Ed Meyer of the music faculty at Martin Luther College in New Ulm as consultant. Leon was not pleased with the specification Dr. Meyer provided, feeling it was underestimating the abilities of the congregation to pay and their interest in music. Leon and I came up with a more comprehensive design, and Walker was engaged to build it. I played the dedication recital.

The fully-encased organ was designed to fit in the existing organ chamber, with only the facade and keydesk showing. The location of the keydesk allowed the music director to conduct the choir, seated to conductor's side. The Great is at the front, then the Swell speaking through the Great, with the unencased Pedal on the floor at the back of the chamber, using the chamber walls for resonance. The effect in the carpeted church was very good, and even the relatively low-pitched mixture was not at all overwhelming.

On March 29, 1998, a massive tornado went through the middle of St. Peter. Ground zero was the city park, lined on two sides by churches: St. Peter Catholic (destroyed), Trinity Lutheran (damaged), St. Peter Lutheran (severely damaged). St. Peter Lutheran's education building escaped largely unharmed, but the sanctuary was damaged such that the building was torn down. The organ escaped serious damage since it was within a chamber within its own case.

A new sanctuary was constructed on the existing property, but turned by 90 degrees. Unlike the acoustically dead old building, the new has a higher roof, hard walls and floor, and a large balcony. The organ was sent back to Walker where it was slightly reconfigured for its new and free-standing location in the balcony. Most notably, the pedal division was moved up from the floor so there is a passage underneath.

The organ looks odd in its new setting since it is so narrow and deep. It was designed to fit in a chamber, which is why it looks so narrow. The pedal division sticks up behind and above the main case since it was reconfigured to provide the passage beneath. Nonetheless, it sounds infinitely better in the new acoustic than it did in the old and dead sanctuary. The sound is so improved that it's hard to imagine that it's the same organ.

Photos and information from David Engen. Additional information from Organ Historical Society as of 2010.

8 Principal
8 Rohr Flute
4 Octave
2 Wald Flute
2' Mixture IV
8 Trumpet

8 Gedackt
8 Salicional
8 Voix Celeste
4 Spitz Flute
2 Principal
1.1/3 Larigot
8 Oboe

16 Bourdon
8 Tapered Principal
4 Choral Bass
16 Fagott (wood, L/2 1-12)