top of page

Our History - The Minnesota organ that became a Stettler landmark September 2, 2021 @ 3:10 pm

Mr. Scott Pfieffer & Mr. Doug McKay with the Opus 86 shortly after its 2014 restoration

The Swedish Lutheran Church of St. Peter is home to the Opus 86 organ which has had a long, and very interesting life.

Built in 1890 for St. Joseph’s Church in Silver Lake Minnesota, the Opus 86 organ was sold in the 1940s to the Trinity Lutheran Church in Gaylord Minnesota. The notably different design of the Opus 86’s second home required several modifications to the pipes and the swell box. Less than ten years later the congregation opted to replace the organ with an electric model. They were on the verge of disposing of the glorious instrument altogether but word of mouth passed through relatives and friends resulting in the organ being purchased by the congregation of St. Peter’s Swedish Lutheran Church of Stettler.

Congregation members Gus Eisentraut and Dick Hubert, then drove Eisentraut's ‘53 Ford One-Ton down to Trinity church, and back, in a 6-day round trip. While down there the men helped dismantle the organ and, although there was no official price requested for the organ, they did leave a sizeable donation in Trinity’s offering plate on behalf of the Stettler Congregation.

The organ’s new home at St. Peter’s main street location was in a state of flux for the congregation. Older guard members were content with the old church that they had purchased in 1925. They built a manse, incurring huge debt that stuck with the congregation through the Great Depression, and into the Second World War. Newer members with no connection to the years of debt that was finally being paid off were starting to push for a new church building all together. After just a decade of use the Organ was put into storage while the historic church was sold and a new one erected.

Shortly after being moved into the new A-frame building in 1966, an extensive restoration and repair project was performed on the organ. Old paint was scraped away, the oak wood and walnut trim was repaired. Over the years, modifications and upgrades were made to the organ as the same happened to the church building itself. A new blower motor would be installed, however, this would reveal various problems with the existing unit such as the leather bellows themselves. Because of this another massive restoration and repair project was undertaken in 2014.

Smaller repairs and changes have been made to the organ since then however, experts who have been brought in to do some of the tasks, or consult on the repairs and modifications, are confident the 131 year old organ has many many years left in it.

Carson Ellis, Reporter & Local Historian at Our Town Stettler


bottom of page