The OHS Pipe Organ Database

BuilderID 3275

Builder Identification

Germany; immigrated to United States, 1849; New York City, New York, 1849-1873; St. Louis, Missouri, 1873-1902.

Additional Notes

  • Note from the OHS PC Database, derived from A Guide to North American Organbuilders, by David H. Fox (Richmond, Va.: Organ Historical Society, 1991). -

    Born March, 1821 in Durlach, Germany; father of Charles C. Kilgen, Sr.; immigrated to the United States, 1849; with Jardine firm of New York City, New York; established firm in St. Louis, MO, 1873; partner with son, 1866; died 1902; succeeded by son.


    • The Diapason June 1932, 1.
    • David Junchen, Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ, vol. 1 (Pasadena: Showcase Publications, 1985), 182.
    • The Keraulophon 21:1, whole #134.
    • Orpha Ochse, The History of the Organ in the United States (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1975), 167.
    • Elizabeth Towne Schmitt.

  • See main entry: Geo. Kilgen & Son, Inc.


  • Note from Organ Database Builders editor Stephen Hall, December 15, 2017. -

    (John) George Kilgen was born in March of 1821 in Durlach, a city in the southern portion of the Grand Dutchy of Baden [part of modern Germany]. Kilgen immigrated to the United States in 1849; part of the German middle-class exodus caused by the failed democratic revolutions of the late 1840s.

    Kilgen initially worked with the Jardine firm of New York City before establishing his own firm in the city around 1851. He relocated the firm to St. Louis, Missouri, in 1873. The name was changed to Geo. Kilgen & Son Inc. when Charles C. Kilgen joined the firm in 1886.

    Kilgen built mostly two-manual tracker action instruments with ten to twelve stops. The majority of his instruments were sold to small churches in the southern Midwest states although some found homes as far north as Michigan. His son, Charles, added tubular pneumatic instruments to the company-s portfolio, but electrical action would not appear until the 1900s.

    George Kilgen died December 6, 1902, in St. Louis. His son Charles continued the company under his own name, considerably enlarging their sales territory and producing instruments of greater size culminating in the firm-s magnum opus, St. Patrick-s Cathedral in New York City in 1928-1930, a giant with five manuals and 177 ranks.


    • Richard Kassel "(John) George Kilgenr" in The Organ: An Encyclopedia edited by Douglas Bush & Richard Kassel (Utah: Psychology Press, 2006), 182.
    • Orpha Ochse, The History of the Organ in the United States (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1975),

Database Entries

There is one entry in the database that describes an organ by (John) George Kilgen.

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