Historic Trinity Lutheran Church ~ LCMS

Saint Louis, Missouri

Three-Manuals – 52 ranks

Historic Trinity Lutheran Church is the oldest Lutheran church west of the Mississippi River. Started in 1839 by immigrants from Germany, Trinity was early one of the leading Protestant congregations in the St. Louis area. The first Trinity Lutheran Church on the present site was built in 1864 and destroyed by a tornado in 1896. Quickly rebuilt, the building became a centerpiece of the historic Soulard neighborhood.

The first organ in the present church was built by Johann Georg Pfeffer, a German who emigrated to the United States in 1854. By 1859 he had settled in St. Louis where he became one of the area’s most prominent 19th century organbuilders. He may have worked in the shop of William Metz for a time, but when Metz moved the Collinsville, IL around 1865, Pfeffer began using the Metz shop. Interestingly, Trinty Lutheran had purchased a Metz organ for use in the church’s first building on 3rd and Lombard.

Pipes were salvaged from the Pfeffer organ after the tornado of 1896, and a new two-manual, 26 rank Kilgen tracker organ was installed in the restored church in 1899. The organ was refurbished by George Kilgen and Son in 1927 enlarging the instrument to three-manuals and pedal with electro-pneumatic action. 19 stops from the Pfeffer and Kilgen instruments were retained for the present 52 rank Schantz organ.

The Kilgen organ’s original location was near the “choir balcony” at the front of the church. As the music programs at Trinity have grown over the years, the bell and vocal choirs moved to the balcony at the rear of the worship space. The main divisions of the new Schantz organ occupy the original Kilgen chambers, but a new Gallery Organ of 9 ranks was installed in the balcony for use in accompanying choirs and soloists. The new low-profile organ console is also located in the choir gallery.