The St. Joseph Pipe Organ

With thanks for your generosity and your continued support of the Rooted in Faith-Forward in Hope Campaign, we have completed the St. Joseph Pipe Organ!  Our organ is now in use! Click here to see our organ project video!

Opportunities remain for those who wish to memorialize one of the organ's existing ranks, or contribute memorial gifts to expand the tonal colors of our pipe organ to up to 17 ranks. If you are interested in doing so, you can click the links on the left or call the Parish Office at 440.238.5555 for more information. Thank you for your support!

                                                                                                                          "To my eyes and ears the organ will ever be the King of Instruments. "

~ Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

About the St. Joseph Pipe Organ Project

The journey toward this organ began approximately 9 years ago, when Fr. Bob Sanson had identified replacing our 1985 Allen Digital Organ as a priority. As our Rooted in Faith, Forward in Hope Campaign began, we again identified replacing the aging digital organ a priority. I began to research other digital organs. The more digital organs I saw and heard, the wearier I grew of the sound of these imitation organs and their relative costs, considering they need to be replaced 25-30 years. We formed an organ replacement committee to help guide our parish's decision making, which consisted of Fr. Joe, myself, and several parishioners.  We all agreed that it was worth pursuing a real pipe organ due to the higher quality of sound, and our belief that it expressed our parish's ongoing pursuit of excellence and pride in our building under Fr. Joe's leadership.  It would be a source of pride that could last well into the NEXT century.  After all, many of the grandest organs in the world are hundreds of years old.


I met with the owners of three nationally known organ builders. All said a pipe organ in the choir loft would be impossible. Their quotes for new organs built behind the altar ranged from $585,000 to $750,000. Our choir loft clearly was not designed with a pipe organ in mind.  However, when I invited James Leek of Leek Pipe Organ Company in Berea, he too saw the opportunity to custom fit an organ for the loft that would complement our space and acoustics. At $265,000, his quote was achievable and comparable to the installation of a digital organ.  After a parish-wide meeting in October 2016 discussed this proposal, it was decided we would go forward with this plan.


Most of the components of Mr. Leek’s design came from an organ build by the Schantz Organ Company in 1977 and installed in First United Church in Berea, now part of the music department at Baldwin Wallace.  That organ was acquired by Leek Pipe Organ Company (LPOC) and became the foundation of the St. Joseph Organ. Additional pipes came from the closed Trinity Lutheran Church in Lakewood. Still more pipes were newly crafted.  All of this was re-purposed, and many parts/components made new by LPOC. The organ also contains one set of 12 "digital" pipes, which sound through a speaker on the wall. This is because that kind of pipe would have been up to 16 feet tall, and would not have fit in our loft. Finally, while our organ represents a complete instrument, room was left for expansion and the opportunity to add 4 more ranks of unique pipes, if donors wish to expand the grandeur and tonal palate of our organ. 


To fit it under our very low loft ceilings, Leek's creative vision was to cantilever two symmetrical portions off the front of the loft. This allowed them to sit lower than floor level and clear the ceiling, projecting sound down the nave of the church without blocking the view of the musicians.  Anyone who attends our parish knows this was no small feat, as the ceiling under the loft needed to be removed and steel beams placed to hold the weight. The well-designed box at the back of the loft (called a Swell Box) contains pipes that fit under the sloping ceiling, and is centrally placed to project sound down the nave of the church. It contains shutters that open and close to make the music louder or softer.   


Our St. Joseph Organ began as 14 ranks (sets of one kind of pipe) with approximately 1000 pipes. Organ pipes have different classifications that create different sounds. Our Pipe Organ has a range of sounds like an orchestra, from soft flutey pipes, to narrow-sounding string-like pipes, to trumpet sounds, to bells, and chimes. There are large, deep bass pipes that make the ground vibrate, and tiny high pitched pipes that are no bigger than your pinkie.


The result of this creative endeavor is a beautiful new instrument to accompany our liturgies. I enjoy thinking of this instrument as a living piece of art, that breathes and sings with the same air that we breathe and sing. The craftsmanship required to build such a work of art takes a lifetime of skill and generations of tradition. There is a reason why the world was saddened by Notre Dame almost burning down this year. I believe it is because we are moved toward the Divine by beautiful (even if expensive) works of true art. It is a source of inspiration that our parish, and you, our parishioners, helped to build this beautiful testament to our faith in God, the same way the people of France helped to build their magnificent Cathedral 800 years ago. ~ Luke Massery

Pipe organ vs digital organ 100-year cost comparison

Our organ was built by Leek Pipe Organ Company of Berea, using a heritage console, windchests, and pipes from two local churches, to perfectly fit our church’s space both acoustically and aesthetically. James Leek is a Catholic, 3rd generation organ-builder who has recently been doing notable work all over the US, but especially here in our county, including the restoration of the historic pipe organ at St. Stanislaus Parish in Cleveland. Our organ will have 3 divisions, the Great Division (the main unenclosed pipes suspended over the corners of the loft), the Swell Division (enclosed at the back of the loft) and the Pedal Division (Enclosed within the swell division). Here is the stoplist updated in 2023.