Germany; immigrated to United States, 1849; New York City, New York, 1849-1873; St. Louis, Missouri, 1873-1902.
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.
See main entry: Geo. Kilgen & Son, Inc.
We received the most recent update for this note from Database Manager on April 09, 2020.
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.