The renovation of the Cathedral's massive pipe organ is underway, and everything started by moving some really heavy furniture.

workers remove pews in a Cathedral

Dean Randy Hollerith is going to need to find a new place to sit after his ornate wooden stall was, well, uninstalled in the Great Choir, along with all of the massive hand-carved pews. It’s likely the first time any of this furniture has moved since the 1930s, and the dean’s stall is so heavy it required a crew of six workers to move it.

What’s going on here?

The Cathedral’s massive pipe organ, circa 1938, needs to be completely rebuilt and renovated; after 85 years of near daily service, the instrument is near the end of its natural life span and needs a complete overhaul.

Just one challenge: Most of the organ pipe are located some 40 feet off the ground, tangled in with electrical systems, HVAC equipment, lighting — you name it. In order to access (and remove) the guts of the organ, we’re building massive scaffold inside the Great Choir. Not long after Easter, the scaffold will be used to erect a hanging platform, suspended high above the floor, where workers will have easier access to the organ.

READ MOREOrgan Failure: After nearly 85 years of service, the Cathedral’s massive pipe organ is nearing retirement age (Cathedral Age)

For now, all furniture in the Great Choir was temporarily removed to make way for the scaffold build. Once the floating platform is in place, the furniture will be returned and the space will be open for use again by Easter. We anticipate the floating platform will remain in the Great Choir for the next four years or so.

And, in case you’re wondering — we have a temporary digital organ that will continue to anchor Cathedral worship services. For most visitors and worshippers, it should sound more or less like the original pipe organ. You can take a deeper dive over at a new section on our website devoted to the organ renovation project.


Kevin Eckstrom

Chief Public Affairs Officer

  • architecture
  • music