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Show us your . . . organ

We check out St. John's Episcopal Church's new set of brass pipes


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The organ that now sits in the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, a shuttered parish on the far-west side, has had three owners since its construction in 1891. The third doesn't actually have possession of it yet. After Good Shepherd closed, the instrument was purchased by St. John's Episcopal Church, whose congregation is now fund-raising to complete the purchase, move, and restore the instrument.

"If you know anything about Episcopalians, they're history geeks," said St. John's vestry member Elizabeth Jurkacek, shortly before passing along to me a ten-page document that can fairly be described as a geek's guide to the Lancashire-Marshall tracker organ, which is a type of pipe organ. It was the 52nd version produced by local firm Lancashire-Marshall, and it was first installed in a church in Superior, Wisconsin. After that church closed in 1972, the organ sat in storage for 15 years before its purchase by Good Shepherd.

Jurkacek's taken the opportunity to learn more about classical organ music, which, she admitted, she'd "probably spent five minutes thinking about" before her church decided to buy the organ. She's now involved in raising funds—the total cost, including restoration, transport, and some architectural tweaks to accommodate the instrument, should be around $80,000. The organ, Jurkacek said, is in "excellent shape. It needs cleaning—a lot of cleaning—and some tender loving care, but it doesn't need a lot of work." The cost itself was $21,000; a new one of similar caliber, she mentioned, runs about $500,000.

On Sat 5/19 a listening session at Good Shepherd (7116 W. Palmer) includes a performance by Fourth Presbyterian music director John Sherer, with a cocktail party afterward; it's $30 and begins at 7 PM. St. John's hopes to disassemble the organ in August and have it installed by October.

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