Minnesota State University Mankato

Elias Halling Recital Hall
Fine Arts Center
Mankato, MN 56001

Builder: Richard Lurth Organ Co (1971)
Originally Rieger Orbelbau, 1955
Manuals: 3
Stops: 36
Action: Mechanical

Notes: Originally located on the small balcony above the stage. The organ is no longer at this location, and is presumed destroyed, dispersed or relocated.
1955: Installed at U of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Pre-1971: pipes used for various practice organs.
1971: Moved and reconstituted by Lurth

In the 50's Rieger offered organ kits. There was a base unit to which you could add a Great, Pedal and a Brustwerk. (One such complete 2-manual is located in St. Paul.) Evidently the University of Michigan had assembled the largest version -- 3 manuals + pedal -- as a practice organ, perhaps under Robert Noehren. (I once saw a brochure about these -- a bunch of the base units were sent to the St. Cloud Diocese, but virtually all of them fell apart in MN weather.) The one at Michigan never worked very well and the mechanism was discarded. Mankato State got the mechanism while Michigan kept the pipes to recycle into other practice organs.

Dick Lurth assembled and enlarged the organ in the concert hall in the Fine Arts Center. The whole thing was perched on a balcony above the stage, with the player totally hidden behind the pipes and facing the audience. Behind and to the right of the player a swell box was added with strings and a couple of reeds. There was a dowel sticking out of the side of the console that you kicked with your foot to get the swell shades to move.

Stop knobs were marked with Roman Numerals, so one needed a separate paper "key" to indicate what each stop actually was. The ebony keys had been lengthened with black plastic.

The player couldn't see and couldn't hear. An air duct blew heated or cooled air on the pipes all of the time -- until it was covered with duct tape.

Eventually it was removed, and the music world breathed a sigh of relief.
-- David Engen