Great Cathedral Organ

Read the timeline below for the history of the organ and its changes and modifications over the years.

August 25, 1915

The first Kilgen Organ in the Cathedral was dedicated by Most Rev. John J. Glennon on the Feast of St. Louis. The organ had two duplicate four-manual consoles, one placed in the gallery with the main organ and the other in the sanctuary behind the main altar with a smaller instrument. There was also a Celestial division whose pipes were in the dome of the Cathedral.

September 18, 1946

Contracts were signed for the new Kilgen Organ (behind the main altar). The organ would be 77 ranks of pipes which included 14 stops from the 1915 Kilgen Organ. Total cost was $34,375.00 and the existing organ!

May 27, 1948

Contracts signed for the Processional Organ (South Gallery). The organ consisted of 10 ranks of pipes on a two manual console, playable also from the main organ. The instrument was previously the Echo Organ in Carnegie Hall, New York City. Total cost was $9,825.00.

October 13, 1949

Dedication of the new Kilgen “Liturgical Organ”. The Blessing of the organ was given by Most Rev. Joseph E. Ritter and the dedication recital was played by Cathedral Organist, Dr. Mario Salvador.

July 26, 1984

The Rededication Concert of the Kilgen Organ, rebuilt by M.P. Moller, Hagerstown, Maryland. Cathedral Organist, Dr. Mario Salvador, was the recitalist and the St. Louis Cathedral Choir sang.

January 5, 1997

The Edward and Eileen Roehr Memorial Console and Organ Renovation Project was dedicated at the 10 a.m. Mass by Msgr. James Telthorst and a Dedicatory Organ Recital was played by Organist, Composer and restoration project consultant, Dr. Charles Callahan. The restoration was done by the Wicks Organ Company, Highland, Illinois, and included a new four-manual console in the sanctuary, the refurbishing of the Gallery Console, new solid-state circuitry throughout, several new ranks of pipes (bringing the total to 96 ranks) and some digital stops, including five 32′ stops.

January 7, 2007

The Charles and Margaret Mary Callahan, Sr. Dome Division was installed in the East transept in the Summer of 2002. This new dome division consists of 15 ranks of pipes (855 pipes) made up of a new principle chorus and a 5 rank cornet. An additional 10 ranks (610 pipes) were added to the gallery organ to enhance the choral singing from the south gallery. All of these additions were made possible though the generous gifts of Charles Callahan, Jr. of Vermont (the organ consultant for the entire project), Ms. Flora Symons of Washington, DC, and parishioners Paul and Lynette Raidt, and A. William Larson. All of the pipework, except the cornet, is from the 1951 Aeolian Skinner organ, the First Church of Christ Scientist, Boston. The new Cornet V was built by the Wicks Organ Company of Highland, Illinois. On Sunday, January 7, 2007 on the tenth anniversary of the dedication of the Roehr Memorial Console, the dome Organ was dedicated to the memory of Charles and Margaret Mary Callahan Sr. The concert was played by organist Dr. Charles Callahan, Jr. The Archdiocesan Choir of St. Louis also participated in this dedication.

The organ is now 118 ranks, 7,621 pipes.


The final phase of the restoration of the organ was completed in 2011, when the small two-keyboard console in the gallery was replaced with a five- manual console acquired from St. Bartholomew Episcopal Church in New York City. It is one of only two of five manual consoles built by the Aeolian-Skinner Company. Having a full console in the gallery returns the organ to its original state. It was refurbished by the Emery Brothers of Pennsylvania. The five new keyboards are constructed by the Colby Company of Kentucky to match the original Aeolian-Skinner keyboards.

The cathedral had two duplicate consoles from 1915 to 1949. In 1949 the main organ was moved downstairs and was only controlled from the main console. The restoration and installation of the console was made possible by a donation by Cathedral parishioner Brian Abel Ragen.

The Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis has had four Directors of Music and Organists in its history: Mr. William Diebels, 1915-1939; Dr. Mario Salvador, AAGO, 1940-1992; Dr. John Romeri, AAGO, ChM, 1992-2010; Dr. Horst Buchholz, 2011-Present.

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