St. Boniface Catholic Church
Evansville, Indiana

8’ Diapason
8’ Diapason Conique*
8’ Melodia* 
8’ Dolcan
8’ Dolcan Celeste 
4’ Octave
2 2/3’ Quint 
2’ Super Octave 
8’ Trompete
Gr. Unison Silent

Gr. to Gr 16, 4
Sw to Gr 16, 8, 4
8’ Violin Diapason*
8’ Chimney Flute
8’ Salicinal
8’ Viole Celeste
4’ Principal*
4’ Koppel Flute
4’ Fugara
2 2/3’ Nazard
2’ Klein Flute
8’ Cornopean*
4’ Clarion*

Sw to Sw 16, 4
16’ Sub Bass*
16’Rohr Gedect
16’ Bourdon*
8’ Octave*
8’ Bourdon
8’ Still Gedeckt
4’ Super Octave*
16’ Trombone*

Gr to Ped 8, 4
Sw to Ped 8
*These stops contain pipes from the former organ at St. Mary Cathlic Church in Evansville. 
Wicks Organ Company:
Opus 132, probably prior to 1920*
Opus 3505 (1954)**

Earlier organ:
Henry Pilcher's Sons (1903, Opus 451)***.
2 manuals. 23 stops. 27 ranks.
Original price: $3500. Register key stop action instead of d. stops.

Wicks Organ Company/Sam Bowerman

Written by Karen Schneider Kirner

On December 15, 1954, St. Boniface pastor Fr. William A. Bertrnagel, signed a contract with the Wicks organ company of Highland, Illinois for Wick's Opus 3505, with two manuals and 11 ranks. The purchase price was $10, 980.00. The organ served the parish well and faithfully for many years. Through my college organ studies, I would often fill in as an organist when home on breaks.  The church is an ideal acoustic “room” for a pipe organ, which has long been “accorded pride of place” because of its capacity to sustain the singing of a large gathered assembly, due to both its size and its ability to give “resonance to the fullness of human sentiments, from joy to sadness, from praise to lamentation.” (Sing to God document, issued by the US Catholic Conference of Bishops, Nov. 2007.) The instruction continues: Likewise, “the manifold possibilities of the organ in some way remind us of the immensity and the magnificence of God.”

The St. Boniface organ had been “prepared” for eight more ranks of pipes than they had been able to afford with the original contract, so that there were no principal pipes in the pedal, on the swell, and it was missing a reed and basic flute stop on the great division. In late February of 2007, I received in South Bend an e-mail correspondence from an organ builder friend that St. Mary's parish of Evansville was soon to be replacing their pipe organ, and that the balcony and the 1940's vintage Wicks organ (Opus 2385 from 1941) had to be removed in rather swift fashion. From South Bend, I phoned the St. Mary's office and requested stoplist information, in case some of the pipework St. Boniface was missing might be contained in this organ that no longer had a use for the parish. It was a “eureka” moment when I saw that most of the missing ranks from the St. Boniface organ could indeed be salvaged from St. Mary's, and that the pipework would fit very well the make and vintage of the St. Boniface organ.

The St. Mary's staff graciously welcomed us to the pipework if we came and collected it ourselves. So during Notre Dame's spring break a few weeks later, we assembled an organ crew made up of two local organ builders, several family members and a few St. Boniface parishioners, and we safely transported most of the pipework to the organ loft at St. Boniface, which was quite a trick with some of the pipes 16' in length that had to be hoisted over the balcony! Thanks to my clever engineering brother, Joe Schneider and the oversight of our organ building friends, much heavy lifting and hard labor, we figured out a way to safely remove and store the pipework until we could determine the cost of the installation of the pipes that would best enhance the organ.

It was essential that the project had the support of pastors from both parishes, and that financial assistance came from St. Boniface parishioners to get the new pipework in place. Through donations and the generosity of the St. Boniface parishioners, St. Boniface Church raised the $30,000 necessary to complete the installation of the pipes. Sam Bowerman from River City Organ Works in Louisville was contracted to do the organ pipe installation.

Now St. Boniface has an organ with many more colors and possibilities, including a lovely 8' flute on the great and a second diapason to balance out a more bold diapason. The energetic trumpet on the swell has been moved to the great division, and a lovely 8' cornopean from St. Mary's is now a 4' clarion on the swell. The swell now has 8' and 4' diapason ranks rather than just softer flutes and strings. The pedal division is now enhanced by twelve 16' open wood pipes of sitka spruce and a 16' trombone, full length, of 12 pipes made of lead and zinc, always the most expensive pipes on an organ. And the pedal now has 8' and 4' octave pipes which came from the 8' great first open diapason rank of St. Mary's, rather than just softer ranks that don't have such a “leading” quality.

In this age of recycling and reusing what we can, this project has been a great example of folks coming together to share resources of materials, time, labor and finances to insure that this pipe organ will be around to inspire and uplift the spirits of generations to come!

It was fun to be a part of this process.

-Karen Schneider Kirner

Sound Sample Available  Sound Clip: A slow movement by Widor, played by Karen Schneider Kirner
          (Allow several seconds for the mp3 file to download.)

The original St Boniface church was built in 1881.  After a fire destroyed the church on Easter weekend 1902, the church was rebuilt by June 1903, retaining much of  the original look.****


*From a conversation with Mark Wick of Wicks Organ Company in 2008.

**From the website of the Chicago-Midwest Chapter Organ Historical Society
, accessed April 2010

***Organ Historical Society website:
Information on Pilcher organ from website, accessed December 10, 2008.

****Church information and exterior photos from: (accessed April 31, 2010)

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