Sacred Heart Parish
Sacred Heart Church was built in 1907. in 1919, the church was rebuilt, and the construction didn’t finish until 1922. Befitting a church building as grand as Sacred Heart, from the very start, the parish made a commitment to quality, stirring music and accompaniment with a pipe organ. The original pipe organ was built and installed as the church was being completed in the early 1920’s.
Built by the Bennet Organ Company of Rock Island, the organ was paid for through special parishioner donations in a funding drive spearheaded by the choir and Louis Sonneville, who also arranged and paid for lessons for the parish’s new organist at Augustana College. The instrument was dedicated in a gala recital and concert given on April 29, 1923 featuring guest artists and soloists from the Tri City Chorus.
The organ has a two-manual console with full, 32 note concert pedal board. There are 1022 pipes housed in organ chambers located on both sides and 15 feet above the choir loft. Pipes range in size from that of a pencil to several which are 8 feet long. An electric motor powers a wind chamber which passes air through the pipes using a series of leather or polyurethane pouches.
By 1968, the organ needed regular servicing to keep it in operation. By 1979, however, the instrument required a complete renovation. Rod Levsen Sr. and Rod Jevsen Jr. of Davenport-based Levson Organ Company conducted a 12 week, $22000 renovation which included removal and cleaning of all 1022 pipes, removal of the original and inoperable leather pouches and reinstallation of new air control pouches. The pipes were individually regilded, reinstalled and the organ tuned.
In subsequent years, although the organ was regularly serviced, it sustained significant damage because of a serious roof leak. The damage was so widespread and estimated repair costs so high, that for several years the pipe organ was simply unusable. Musical accompaniment was made with a temporary small electric console organ donated for that purpose.
By 1993, the parish was able to raise sufficient funds to again completely rebuild the pipe organ. When the magnificent instrument was completed in 1996, the repair bill exceeded $95000, yet no additional special fund drive was needed to cover the cost as the choir had managed to encourage generous contributions to the ongoing effort.
To commemorate the total rebuilding of the pipe organ, a commemorative concert and recital was held on Sunday, November 10, 1996.