Pipe Organ Database

a project of the organ historical society

Geo. Kilgen & Son, Inc. View Extant Instruments View Instruments

Distinction:

St. Louis, Missouri, 1873; "& Son" added in 1886; firm dissolved in 1939.
Classification: Builder

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May 07, 2018:

Note from Organ Database Builders editor Stephen Hall, December 16, 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

Sources:

  • Richard Kassel "(John) George Kilgen" 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),

We received the most recent update for this note from Database Manager on September 18, 2019.

October 30, 2004:

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 George Kilgen in St. Louis, Missouri, 1873; & Son' adopted when Charles C. Kilgen joined firm, 1886; firm continued by Charles C. and his four sons, Alfred G., Eugene R., George J., and Charles C. Kilgen, Jr.; Eugene sued his brothers for mismanagement and the family firm was liquidated, 1939;

Eugene formed the (E. R.) Kilgen Organ Co. which closed 1960, while his three brothers formed Charles Kilgen & Son {Kilgen Associates} which went bankrupt, 1943; George Kilgen & Son name in use, 1945.

Staff: A. J. Aebel; Horace Apel; B. H. Ballard; Carl A. Benson; Jack Biebel; Samuel W. Bihr; (Albert N. Boehm?); S. Bowker; Eugene Braun; Harry Burkhardt; Ray G. Burrington; Leland Butterfield; Nicholas Chatelain; John Cook, Sr.; Charles M. Courboin; Robert L. Eby; Stanley H. Fargher; (Eric A. Fiss?); August Greiling; Hugh T. Harrison; Frank Hawe; Heckman-Newcomer firm; Henry Hosszer; P. W. Hundell; Max Hess; Herbert Alvin Houze; Fred Huber; P. W. Hundeall; Louis Jacab; Charles Jack; Albert E. Jarvis; A. J. Katt; George B. Kemp, Jr.; Alfred G. Kilgen, Jr.; Noel Kilgen; Benno Killibay; August A. Klann; B. C. McDonald; Edward Markison; Henry W. Matlack; George E. Mayhew; Jack Messner; M. H. Millard; A. G. Morrison; Max Nagel; Nicholas J. Pipitone; Thomas J. Quinlan; J. B. Rockefeller; Oscar Schmidt; Edward B. Sieckmann; Clarence Smith; Benjamin F. Sperbeck; Anthony Spevere; Charles Stuchlik; William P. Tenney; Otto Theurer; Paul Wagner; O. D. Walker; Melvin Weber; C. J. Wendell; B. J. Williamson;Henry Vincent Willis; Robert Wilson; John Wright; Ludwig Zentmaier.

Sources:

  • The Diapason: November 1924, 36.
  • The Diapason: April 1926, 12.
  • The Diapason:July 1939, 6.
  • The Diapason:June 1945, 27.
  • David Junchen, Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ, Vol. 1 (Pasadena: Showcase Publications, 1985), 182.
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We received the most recent update for this note from Database Manager on April 29, 2019.

Database Specs:

  • 753 Organs
  • 1 Divisions
  • 0 Consoles

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