116 years after playing its first note, the very first of 3 instruments built by L.J. Wick & Bro. (formed by Louis Wick. John Wick, and local businessman Louis Spengel) in 1906 (later officially becoming Wicks Organ Company in 1908), Opus 1 is going into the shop for the second time for restoration.
Opus 1, a 1 manual 5 rank tracker, originally built for and installed at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Lively Grove, IL in 1906, remained there until the early 1970’s when it was reacquired by Wicks, restored, and donated to SIU – Carbondale (Southern Illinois University) and installed in the University Museum at Faner Hall in 1975. It remained there until 2006, when it was reacquired yet again and brought back home to Highland, IL in celebration of our 100th Anniversary. Its time in southern Illinois was not kind to it. It had become a window display and was exposed to direct sunlight which baked the finish off the casework. The pedalboard was pushed under a radiator, which leaked, causing severe damage to both it, and the knee panel. And the original bench was “Lost”, no one at the museum knowing its whereabouts.
The instrument was first reassembled in the factory erecting room, and later moved into the office studio. When we sold the old factory, it was dismantled yet again and brought across the street and reassembled in our new offices, semi playable and on display just inside the front doors. This is where it has resided for the past 6 years waiting for the right moment to be brought back from decades of differed maintenance and neglect.
That moment is now, the instrument has been dismantled (again) and taken out into the shop for its second restoration. This will not only include cosmetic repairs, but also mechanical and replication of missing components lost in its travels over the past 116 years.
Check back for more information as its journey unfolds!