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East Price Hill church hopes to preserve heritage by restoring 130-year-old organ

Posted at 12:35 AM, Dec 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-07 10:33:32-05

CINCINNATI — At the venerable age of 130, the pipe organ at Holy Family Church in East Price Hill is older than the church itself — older, in fact, than penicillin, the radio and five states. Only three built by its makers, 19th-century Cincinnati organ-crafters Johann Koehnken and Gallus Grimm, remain in the Tri-State area.

“It still plays,” the Rev. Len Wenke said Friday night. “It’s not played as often as we would like, and there’s two reasons.”

The first is that few people actually know how to play a traditional pipe organ. The second: Even if they could, it’s in need of repairs. Some of the metal pipes and internal mechanisms have become corroded over time.

And specialized work on century-old instruments isn’t cheap.

“The goal in life, for us, is to restore it so that it could be played regularly and we can essentially keep the treasure, an antique, in the best possible repair,” Wenke said.

The small parish, comprised of about 450 people, hopes the holiday season will inspire others to donate to its online fundraising campaign for the organ. They predict the necessary repairs will cost $16,000 in total.

It’s not a small ask, but Wenke believes it can happen. The organ, he said, is a rare treasure that future generations of parishioners deserve to enjoy.

“It’s part of our heritage,” he said. “It’s something that I think we all have some interest in securing its future.”

Anyone wishing to make a donation can do so online.