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Organs of St. John Cantius church


Casavant Frères Pipe Organ, Opus 1130


In 1926 the Casavant Frères Organ Company of Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, founded in 1879, was commissioned by Saint James Methodist-Episcopal Church, 4611 South Elis Avenue, Chicago, to build a new pipe organ to replace the organ lost when the previous church burned in1925. This 1926 organ project was directed by Miss Tina Mae Haines, the church organist -  as well as one of the leading musicians in Chicago of that time - who studied under the famous Parisian organist Félix-Alexandre Guilmant. The organ was dedicated in memory of Gustavus F. Swift, founder of the Swift Meat-Processing Company, and given by Ann Higgins Swift, his widow, and his children.

Miss Tina Mae Haines used her knowledge of the magnificent Cavaillé-Coll organs, which dominated the city of Paris, in helping Casavant to construct an organ that would reflect the highest quality of craftsmanship. This 1926 Casavant Organ, Opus 1130, became one of the prominent concert organs in Chicago; the famous Parisian organist and composer Marcel Dupré, a personal friend of Miss Haines, frequently concertized on this organ and gave it great acclaim.
Over time Casavant’s Opus 1130 fell into disuse as Saint James went in to decline. In 2011, as Saint James was closing, Dr. Stephen Schnurr of the Organ Historical Society, and Mr. Jeff Weiler, of J.L.Weiler, Inc., a Chicago based Organ Restorer, and Conservator, approached Rev. C. Frank Phillips, at that time Pastor of Saint John Cantius Church, about the possibility of acquiring this organ for Saint Cantius Church, which was in need of a pipe organ that could serve the needs of the church’s musical program.
In 2011, the Patrons of Sacred Music, the volunteer organization at Saint John Cantius that promotes the restoration of the sacred through music, worked in harmony with the Northern Illinois United Methodist Conference to purchase this organ.
The organ’s removal from Saint James Church was timely because the ceiling over the organ was beginning to collapse, and rain
was leaking into the organ chambers, subjecting the organ to irreparable damage. Then, the capable hands of Casavant Frères and J.L. Weiler took care of it for its historic restoration. Part of the instrument returned to Quebec to the same room where it was crafted 85 years before, while others went to Jeff Weiler’s studio in Chicago’s south loop for restoration. In 2013, the organ historical restoration was completed.
The organ has been named “Tina Mae” to honor Miss Tina Mae Haines; furthermore, this name is most fitting, for “Tina,” the shortened form  of the name "Christina" recalls the name of Christ our Eternal High Priest, just as “Mae” is a variant of the Holy Name of “Mary.”

Casavant Frères Pipe Organ, Opus 1130 Specifications



Chicago Tribune Article about Casavant Organ Dedication »

Article on the Casavant from the Catholic New World »

Gazette Article 

For further information about the Casavant organ, the organ recitals at St John Cantius Church, or to schedule an organ demonstration:

Richard O’Ryan Organ Restoration & Concert

Rededication of completely restored Casavant Frères Pipe Organ

In the fall of 2023 two additional stops, part of the instrument’s original design, were at last added to the organ, completing its restoration. A rededication concert showcased the newly installed Contra Trombone, and Bourdon stops.

Read more about the organ’s history and specifications in the concert’s program book linked here.


Sanctuary Continuo Organ Specification

Built by Oberlinger (2005)

The continuo organ is crafted by the German firm of Oberlinger. The organ was blessed by the Most Reverend Basil Meeking, Bishop Emeritus of Christchurch, New Zealand, during Bach Night, an all-Bach concert of chamber and vocal music, on May 14, 2005.

This instrument is primarily used as a continuo instrument for several different services and smaller liturgies.
This compact instrument features a mechanical transposer allowing the organ to play one half-step lower for “Baroque” pitch (A = 415).

MANUAL (C-d’’’)
Traversflöte (T.B., wood)
8' Copula (wood)
4' Gedackt (1-30 wood, 31-51 open metal)
2' Principalflöte (1-18 stopped metal, 19-51 principal)
1-1/3' Quinte (1-24 stopped metal, 25-51 principal)
I-II Cymbel (1/2'
H-C Transposer


Wurlitzer Theater Organ

Built by Wurlitzer (1927), Opus 1818

In the Church Hall of St. John Cantius is found a Wurlitzer Theater Pipe Organ. It was built in 1927 and is listed as Opus 1818. This organ was originally installed in the Terrace Theatre at 361 West 23rd Street in 1927, and, in 1935, it was moved to the WOR Radio Studio, 1440 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10018. After restoration, this instrument was installed on the stage of the Church Hall at St. John Cantius in 2012.

WOR began broadcasting from the 6th floor of Bamberger’s Department Store at 131 Market Street in Newark, N.J. WOR was the only station to broadcast on Christmas Day 1922, and thus was the first sound heard by those who found a crystal set under the tree that year. In December 1924, WOR added a studio in Manhattan, on the 9th floor of Chickering Hall at 27 West 57th Street. Later that year, the station moved its New York studio to 1440 Broadway, two blocks from Times Square. In the autumn of 1934, WOR formed the Mutual Broadcasting System. Additional studios were built at the New Amsterdam Theatre and the converted Guild and Longacre Theatres in the Times Square district. Alot of best-known dramatic programs originated from WOR’s studios, including “The Shadow”, “Nick Carter, Private Detective” and “True Detective Mysteries.”

Today, this organ is used to accompany silent films in the Church Hall of St. John Cantius. We are grateful to Jay Warren of the Silent Film Society of Chicago for his collaboration in assisting us with our ongoing silent film series.


Wurlitzer Theater Organ Specifications

For further information about the Wurlitzer organ:



The Diapason Jan. 22 cover.jpg

THE DIAPASON is an international journal devoted to the organ, harpsichord, carillon, and church music. It has been in circulation for more than 100 years, providing consistent coverage on instrument specifications, recent news, international event calendars, and both scholarly and technical articles, as well as those of more general interest. The publication maintains a strong following among its readers, many of whom have been subscribers for more than 30 years.

The January 2022 edition of THE DIAPASON features an 8 page article on the organs of St. John Cantius.  We are grateful to Editor-at-Large, Stephen Schnurr, for this outstanding piece. 

This article is reprinted with permission and can be viewed here.

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