The Hinners Organ Company of Pekin, Illinois made this organ in 1903. The only modifications to the instrument are the façade and case which is also a Hinners’ product but from a different 1903 instrument. Only a small portion of the original case remained after the move of the instrument from its original church location next door south of this building.
The instrument consists of nine ranks of pipes on two manuals and pedal, the only pipes not original to the instrument are the façade or painted pipes. The painting design and patterns of the façade is, however, a nearly exact duplication of the organ as built in 1903. The instrument is completely mechanical action with the only modification being the addition of an electric blower. The hand pumping mechanism has been rebuilt and continues to function. The sound qualities of the organ are exactly as it was 100 years ago, with no modifications. It had been realized that the instrument needed to be overhauled and after much consultation it was decided to move the location from adjacent to the chancel area to the balcony. This change has allowed it to have a much greater tonal presence because it is now free standing and not heavily enclosed as in the chancel location. Also, it is much easier to do adjustments to the mechanism and tuning is much easier in the new location. Prior to this the wooden chancel wall had to be removed every time any thing needed attention.
John L. Hinners (1846-1906), founder of the company, was born in Wheeling, Ohio, of German immigrant parents and schooled in Chicago. He served in the Civil War and then went to work as an apprentice in the reed organ department of Mason & Hamlin of Chicago. In 1879 he moved to Pekin, Illinois, and after working two years for a reed organ builder there, he opened his own business. For a time he was in partnership with J. J. Fink, but in 1885 U. J. Albertsen bought Fink’s interest, and the company became Hinners & Albertsen in 1890. In 1902 Albertsen retired, and the firm was incorporated as Hinners Organ Company. This association brought about one of several catalogue organ companies. They had no salesmen, but simply sent out catalogue listing of standard instruments. Hinners put his experience in reed organ manufacturing and his ingenuity to work, designing small organs that could be built along standardized patterns thus reducing the cost. Their primary customers were German-speaking congregations throughout the Midwest. In 1906 John Hinners died and his son Arthur W. (1873-1955) succeeded him as president. The company lasted until hit by the Great Depression and closed its doors in 1936 after building about 3000 instruments. (Paraphrased from The History of the Organ in the United States by Orpha Ochse and published by the Indiana University Press.)
Roland R. Rutz, CEO
Rutz Organ Company, Inc.