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History of the St. Joseph Organs 1 of 2

Before there was St. Joseph parish, there was St. Frances de Sales Mission (affectionally referred to as Cardboard Cathedral). The Knights of Columbus arranged for a WWI-era building from Fort Jackson to be purchased and placed on the Mission’s property. First Holy Mass was Saturday, July 3, 1920. Margaret Elizabeth Modlin Niggel was the organist for St. Frances de Sales many years. The organ was a pump organ placed at the back of the building. June Niggel Derrick still remembers watching her mother’s feet go up and down while she played the organ.

Father Alfred F. Kamler signed a contract for a new Moller pipe organ Wednesday, Oct. 6, 1948. The new St. Joseph organ was to possess four independent voices. Madame Tremblay-Baker (Charlie Baker’s mother) became the first organist of St. Joseph parish. Madame Tremblay-Baker was a noted musician holding a diploma from the Schola Cantorum, Ecole de chant liturgique et de musique religieuse, Paris, ‘26. She was a music instructor at USC 1944-1970 and retired from St. Joseph in 1975.

Miss Margaret Jackson, who became Mrs. Margaret McDonald, succeeded Madame Tremblay Baker in 1975. By 1978, under the leadership of parishioner Zane Knauss and Margaret, an organ committee recommended building a new mechanical (tracker) action organ to replace the failing 1949 electro-action instrument. However, that organ would never be built.


Brad Cunningham, organist

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