After $140K refurbishment, historic pipe organ to return to James J. Hill House

It hasn't been seen in the building since April.
Publish date:

The pipe organ at St. Paul's historic James J. Hill House will return home next week after a $141,000 refurbishment.

The 127-year-old instrument was removed from the Art Gallery room at the Summit Avenue museum, and taken to Dobson Pipe Organ Builders in Lake City, Iowa for repairs.

The intention was to preserve the organ for the future, and returning it to reliable playing condition, as its deterioration meant it had been largely unplayed in recent years.

The Minnesota Historical Society says the refurbishment, funded by private donors, has now been finished and work re-assembling it at the James J. Hill House gets underway on Monday.

"The rehabilitation work focused on combating deterioration of the organ's original wood and leather components, including repairing pipework, re-leathering the organ reservoir and windchests, and designing and constructing new, historically accurate parts to replace pieces beyond repair," the society said.

The two-story tall, 1,000-pipe organ was completed and installed in 1891, having been built by renowned Boston organ maker George Hutchings.

The repaired pieces of the organ. (Credit: Minnesota Historical Society)

The repaired pieces of the organ. (Credit: Minnesota Historical Society)

It was used for gatherings of the railroad magnate's family, as well as concerts and parties.

It last underwent preservation work 30 years ago, which was then funded by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Next Up

Antoine Winfield Jr.

Antoine Winfield Jr. says playoff win was "for my pops back in '09"

The son of the Vikings legend did not forget about "Bountygate."

Jared Vanderbilt

Shorthanded Timberwolves fall to Atlanta in Monday matinee

D'Angelo Russell scored 31 points, but didn't have much help.

police lights

Man, 72, critical after possible robbery outside Minneapolis business

The 72-year-old sustained gunshot wounds in the incident.


It could take months to vaccinate MN teachers, people 65 and older

"This is going to be harder than going to Ticketmaster and trying to get Bruce Springsteen tickets," Walz said.

Herb Brooks statue

Trump's planned statue garden would include 2 Minnesotans, others with MN links

But there were some notable names absent from the wide-ranging and eclectic list.

k9 zeke

Petition seeks to allow retired Corcoran officer to keep K9 partner

Corcoran's public safety director says if K9 Zeke is donated to the officer it will be a loss for the department.


Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Monday, Jan. 18

The latest update from the Minnesota Department of Health.

Tom Kelly Jr.

Tom Kelly Jr., son of Twins World Series manager, dies at 42

He was a member of the 2001 UST national championship team.

Hennepin County CSI

Police: Man shot in the head by woman in Richfield

It happened in the early hours of Monday.



Wayzata's James J. Hill Days is canceled due to COVID-19

The Wayzata Beach Bash concert is also canceled.

Historic Fort Snelling

Minnesota Historical Society keeps its funding after Fort Snelling row

The society had been threatened with funding cuts after changing the Fort Snelling sign.

Historic lodge built by James J. Hill burns down in wildfire

The site was lost despite a "valiant stand" by firefighters.

Screen Shot 2019-07-12 at 10.40.14 AM

A new mystery at Glensheen, as diving bell is recovered beneath boathouse

It's the first time it's been fully viewable by the public.

Grand Old Day

St. Paul's Grand Old Day is going ahead after all

It had been canceled a week ago, but organizers backtracked following the reaction.