Holy Cross Catholic Church
Columbus, OH
2/6 Page
1928/1981

Holy Cross Catholic Church
Photo courtesy of Holy Cross web page (http://www.holycrosscatholic.com/)

Back in the early 1900s, theater organs were in vogue. Most movie houses had one, and several thousand were built over a relatively short period of time. Pipe organ manufacturers Wurlitzer and Robert Morton alone accounted for over 3,000 instruments. However when the films began to speak, the theater organ was no longer needed. Many of theaters simply discarded their instruments or left them in place to rot. Many times when a theater was torn down, the pipe organ was still in place and destroyed at the same time.

However, some theater organs enjoyed a second life in a church or auditorium. With their higher wind pressures and bold sounding stops, these former theater organs often were modified to fit the softer church setting. Traps and percussion were simply not used, or scaled back to chimes or bells, and heavier sounding "theater organ" ranks were modified or replaced with softer sounding "church organ" ranks.

The Organ

This brings us to the two manual, six rank Page Organ Company pipe organ in Holy Cross Catholic Church in Columbus, OH. This organ, built in 1928, was originally installed in the Fayette Theater located in Washington Court House, OH (see side bar photos).
At an unknown date, likely in the mid-1940s, it was removed from the theater. In 1947 the pipe organ, complete with its fancy white horseshoe shaped console, was installed in Holy Family Catholic Church just west of downtown Columbus, OH. During the 1970s, the original console was replaced with a Klann organ console. In addition, the original Tibia rank was replaced with an Open Diapason rank, and the Vox Humana rank was replaced with a Violin Celeste rank.

In 1981 Holy Family purchased a new two manual, 25 rank Schantz pipe organ. The Page organ was then moved to Holy Cross and replaced the small Kilgen pipe organ in the church. The Page organ has served the musical needs of the parish since, and is maintained by Peebles-Herzog Pipe Organs.

Records are sketchy, but this is either the third or fourth pipe organ to vacate the organ chamber at Holy Cross. One pipe organ was destroyed in a fire in 1877, and the blower from a Kilgen pipe organ built in the mid to late 1920s, still sits in the bell tower.


The Fayette Theatre

The Fayette Theatre opened on April 30, 1928, just over a month after the Ohio Theatre in Columbus opened. The Fayette's slogan was "A Theatre Of Distinction", and like the Ohio, its architecture exhibited a bit of Spanish influence. The opening night program lists organist George Werner at the console of the Page "Old Master" Organ. It appears that the "Resident Organist" was actually Catherine Mitchell as her name is listed for all dates after the opening weekend. The theater changed ownership several times, and was eventually closed as a theater in 1977.

Sources:
"Fayette County, Ohio"(M.T. Publishing Company, Inc., 2007), p. 28-29
"History of Fayette County, Ohio 1984" (Fayette County Genealogical Society, 1984), p. 29, 225


Fayette Theatre
A large crowd gathers for the opening of the Fayette Theatre, Washington Court House, Ohio on April 30, 1928.  Source: "Fayette County, Ohio"(M.T. Publishing Company, Inc., 2007), p. 28.

Fayette Theatre
Photo of the Fayette Theatre taken by the web page author on March 3, 2010. Though the building has been modified, distinct features such as the Spanish style roof still exits. The red brick building on the far right also appears in the 1928 photo above.

Parish HistoryHoly Cross

Holy Cross Parish is the oldest Catholic parish in Columbus, established in 1844. It is the successor to St. Remigius, the first Catholic parish in Columbus, which began as a mission in 1833 at the same location. Holy Cross is one of three Catholic parishes in Downtown Columbus, the others being St. Joseph and St. Patrick.

The present church building was completed in 1848 and is the oldest church building of any denomination in Columbus. The church's construction was very closely replicated when a church building was built for St. Mary Parish which is about a mile south of Holy Cross.

Check out the Holy Cross web page for a much more detailed history of the parish, as well as photos and history of the church building itself.




Credits and Links

This has been one of the more interesting pipe organs to profile due its age and history, requiring numerous phone calls, e-mails, and a day trip to Washington Court House, OH. I would like to specifically thank Tom Densel of The Lima Pipe Organ Company for his technical and historical information, Ron Barrett of St. Michael Catholic Church who provided historical information and gave me the suggestion to profile the pipe organ, Michael Lauffer of Peebles-Herzog pipe organs and the library staff at the Carnegie Library in Washington Court House, OH. 


Stop List Photos of the Pipes Console Photos Other Photos of the Organ Holy Cross Catholic Church - Columbus, OH Peebles-Herzog Pipe Organ Company Lima Pipe Organ  Company, Inc.

Holy Cross


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