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Rebuilt Historic Kaua‘i Pipe Organ to Make Grand Debut

All Saints' Episcopal Church

A project to restore Kaua‘i’s only pipe organ turned out to be a bigger ordeal than anyone in the congregation ever imagined. With the project completed, the newly rebuilt instrument will once again reverberate throughout the All Saints’ Episcopal Church this weekend.

When the Kapa‘a church first opened in 1925, a member of the prominent Wilcox family donated the organ to the congregation.

“Over the years, it suffered from the humidity, the salt, air and all those kinds of things. In the 1980s, the first remodel was done and at that time it was expanded from 316 pipes to 422,” said retired church leader David Murray.

Around 2015, they started having problems with it again so the church decided to decommission and restore the organ. Murray said he has been there for every step of the process.

Once they got into the restoration process, they realized the environment had really done a number on the organ so they decided to rebuild, Murray said.

Credit All Saints' Episcopal Church

“We would honor Mrs. Wilcox’s original gift by using as much of the original organ as we could, but we would also expand it,” Murray said. “It was better to use what we could and find a new core piece for the organ, and that we found from a Catholic church in Timonium, Maryland, which was eliminating their organ.” 

The Maryland organ and pieces from the Kaua‘i organ were shipped to Rosales Pipe Organ Services in Los Angeles for restoration and assembly. When the whole process started, the church had hoped to finish in 2018.

The finished pipe organ, now returned to the church with 1,270 pipes, will make its grand debut this weekend--in part thanks to the technical expertise of Morris Wise, Murray said.

The first concert on Saturday, played by organist Adam Pajan, is a private event for donors and the congregation. It will be played at the Sunday morning service and then again in the afternoon for the general public. Only 50 people will be allowed inside the church but there will also be a live stream, Murray said.

“I think Mrs. Wilcox would be happy if she were here,” Murray said. “The Sloggett family will be there--members of the Sloggett family who are linked to the Wilcox family.

This story aired on The Conversation on May 13, 2021.

Correction: The article previously referred to David Murray as David Brown. HPR apologizes for the error.

Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at ccruz@hawaiipublicradio.org.
Sophia McCullough is a digital news producer. Contact her at news@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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