By Sue Loudon
It was almost a homecoming for organ No. 61. The keyboard instrument was built in Kansas City, Kansas, by the Charles W. McManis Company in 1965 before it was delivered to an Episcopal church in LaGrange, Texas. Charles McManis built or restored over 140 organs during his career. Now No. 61 is back in the metro area as a donation to The Lutheran High School of Kansas City at 12411 Wornall Road.
The school received the organ on January 12 from the Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Gladstone, Mo. Although it was a gift, the school had to pick it up, transport it and install it in the auditorium. This was not an easy task! Not only was the organ large and heavy, but the pipes were wrapped in quilted, padded blankets and packed in wooden boxes.
Organ 61 first was acquired by an Episcopal Church in Le Grange, Texas. When church members decided they wanted a bigger organ, they sold it to Holy Cross Lutheran Church. At the time, the Gladstone church was planning to build a chapel that would be a perfect home for this organ. That plan changed, however, so it was stored for several years. The church recently voted to donate the organ to the Lutheran High School for use in their auditorium, which is used for chapel services by both the high school and a Lutheran grade school.
Peter Olson, the high school band and choir director, is happy to accept this organ from the church where he was baptized and where his parents still attend. He was in charge of arranging its delivery with the Quimby Pipe Organs Company in Warrensburg, Mo. The company was established in 1970 and now builds and installs organs all over the country. They advertise on the internet that they do “Blackinton style electro-pneumatic slider windchests which allow the pipes to speak clearly and practically.”
“We pack, deliver, repair and service organs,” said Brian Seevers, Quimby Pipe Organ Company. “We have been really busy since churches have been closed. This is hard on organs. They need to be at a comfortable temperature and played.”
The Quimby delivery men had other calls to make, so installation was not started with delivery.
“Installation will take two days and we are hoping to get started next week,” said Olson. “We will have a dedication at one of our chapel services later. I’ll let you know when. I’m mainly a piano player, but I did study pipe organ in college, so I’m anxious to get this organ installed.”