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

It hasn't been seen in the building since April.
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James J. Hill House organ

Credit: Minnesota Historical Society.

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.

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