The OHS Pipe Organ Database

BuilderID 1978

Builder Identification

San Francisco, California, 1877-1980s.

Additional Notes

  • From the OHS PC Database, derived from A Guide to North American Organbuilders, rev. ed. by David H. Fox (Organ Historical Society, 1997) -

    Established by Felix Schoenstein in San Francisco, California, in 1877; representative of the Austin firm of Hartford, Connecticut, in 1957; acquired by Jack M. Bethards in 1970; name changed to Schoenstein & Co.

    Staff: Gus Abeling; Clyde M. Balcom ; Paul Beckwith; Ernest Berlo; Robert Berlo; Donald Black; James H. Bolton; A. C. Burnham; Glen Brasel; Mrs. John Bufalini; Ted Crawford; Edward L. Crome; Gilbert Crosby; Frank Cusak; William Dahl; Peter Derrick; Martin Donant; Harry Doyle; Frank Farren; Frank Fassler; Homer Hamlin; Edward Hause; James Heaton; Gayle Holmlund; Helen Houston; Albert Jestadt; John Johnston; West Jorgensen; Kellner; Victor Kinkella; Murray Knowlton; Fred Lake; Stella Lazzaroni; Joseph Lee; George T. Limacher; Lindsay; Fred Mayer; Peter Mueller; Gus Minch; Bradford Morse; George Mundinger; William Nessier; John Ogle; John Olderler; John O'Neil; John Oston; Herman Partman; Julius Peterson; Frank Reichmuth; Robert Rhoads; Thomas Rhodes; Frank Roberts; Robrecht; Andrew Rosberg; Ruperich; Alex Schoenstein; Bertram F. Schoenstein; Erwin Schoenstein; Frank Schoenstein, Sr. & Jr.; Lawrence L. Schoenstein; Leo F. Schoenstein Sr.: Leo F. Schoenstein Jr.; Louis J. Schoenstein; Otto Schoenstein; Paul Schoenstein; Robert Schoenstein; Terrence P. Schoenstein; Vincent Schoenstein; Don Siler; Richmond H. Skinner; Robert Sproule; C. A. Stewart; Edward M. Stout; John Strathaus; August Sustaric; Charles Sweeney; Robert Toutjian; Shield Toutjian; Mike Towey; Fred Walti; John West; Wilhelm brothers; Chester Wiltse; Harold Wright.


    • Organ Handbook, (Organ Historical Society, 1989), 53.
    • Louis J. Schoenstein, Memoirs of a San Francisco Organ Builder (San Francisco: Cue Publications, 1977).


  • From the OHS PC Database Builders Listing editor, Mar 20, 2016 -

    Felix F. Schoenstein & Sons was established by Felix Schoenstein in San Francisco, California, in 1877; it is the oldest organ firm in the U.S. west of the Mississippi which is still active. It is also the largest builder on the west coast.

    "The Schoenstein family has been building distinguished instruments for five generations. The firm started in the Black Forest of Germany in the mid-19th century with branches in Odessa, St. Petersburg, Berlin, and Stuttgart among others. In 1868, Felix F. Schoenstein came to San Francisco representing his father and brothers. By 1877 he established his independent firm there."1 The firm built new organs locally, while most of the organ shops in the then remote area were service firms associated with builders in the eastern U.S. An organ from the Hook brothers had to be shipped all the way around the tip of South America, a Schoenstein organ could be delivered from within the city. The firm survived the great earthquake of 1906, and would actually derive much new business in its aftermath as the city rebuilt. In addition to its own instruments, Schoenstein repaired organs from other builders as churches rebuilt their damaged sanctuaries.2

    The firm was a representative of the Austin firm of Hartford, Connecticut, in 1957. It has helped with installations by other eastern builders as well, including Aeolian-Skinner.

    The firm was acquired by Jack M. Bethards in 1970; the name was changed to Schoenstein & Co.


    • Schoenstein & Co. website, History page,, accessed Nov 6, 2015.

  • For further information, see Schoenstein & Co.

  • External links: Schoenstein & Co.

Database Entries

There are 7 entries in the database that describe organs by Felix F. Schoenstein & Sons.

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Builder's nameplate. Photograph by Michael A. Way