Christ Lutheran Church

509 Kansas St NW
Preston, MN 55965

Builder: Duys & Nicholson
Wicks Organ Co, Opus 2480, 1942-45
Manuals: 2
Ranks: 6
Action: Wicks Direct Electric®

Notes from Carsten Slostad: When I grew up in Preston, there were only two pipe organs, one at each Lutheran Church, the Wurlitzer at St. Paul’s American Lutheran and a Wicks at Grace Lutheran.

CHURCH history...
St. Paul’s American Lutheran was orginally organized in 1873 by German settlers. It was never part of the German Missouri church however. They met in several locations and finally built their building (currently converted into apartments) in 1903. They built an addition to the building in the early 1950’s to house the Wurlitzer organ which was purchased from the Century Theater in Minneapolis.

Grace Lutheran (so named in 1949) was originally named St. Paul’s Evangelical Church church when organized in 1887 and always refered to as “St. Paul’s on the Hill” to not be confused with the other Lutheran church. It was made up of Norwegian ethnic members. They purchased a Wicks organ early on for its building. ..(date? I’m guessing pre-WWII) I remember my piano teacher Winifred Remmington telling me she lead the committee and the fund raising efforts to purchase the organ. It was the first organ I ever had the chance to play.

In 1956, lead by a committee chaired by my father, Elmer Slostad, the two Lutheran churches began talks about merger. There were already talks that the two synods their churches represented were working on merger and why not just do it now as they both needed a now sanctuary to house their growing congregations. On June 1, 1958 they officially merged and then began planning the construction of the new church for the new congregation now officially called “Christ Lutheran”. I believe the cornerstone was laid in 1960. The design of the new building plus the need to remove the Wicks organ, which was an easier move and urgently needed as the Grace Lutheran property was sold and the building was to be demolished, was probably the reason the Wicks made it to the new building. I’m thinking my piano teacher had some influence on the decision as well as the organ was intended to be a church organ.

In the mean time during the construction of the new building the congregation met in both locations. Once the move into the new building occurred, the St. Paul location was emptied and only the organ and a few pews remained. Dr. Matson of Spring Valley became interested and bought the organ and worked out a deal with the church to cover the cost of heating the building in winter. That arrangement worked well for a couple of years and I was given a key and was able to play it when I could and make sure the heat was on low in winter etc.... There were several Theater Organ (ATOE) events held with some interesting and some well known least I as a teenager was impressed. The church sold the building in 1964 to the contractor who build the new church. He had a design to convert the building into 5 apartments. The organ had to be removed and I along with a crew of Dr. Matson’s friends got the job done in one week. He put the organ in storage until his barn conversion was completed for the reinstall in Spring Valley.

The move of the Wicks was done after the organ loft was built with little restoration of the instrument. It functioned for many years, a new blower was added, but the organ had issues and was really not big enough to serve the needs of the congregation. A restoration and addition was accomplished by Duys & Nicholson of Northfield, MN.