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Back home again

Staff Writer | August 25, 2020 1:08 AM

Knights of Columbus answers the call to deliver 1878 organ to Mission of the Sacred Heart

CATALDO — A 1878 organ arrived Monday in the Mission of the Sacred Heart. It sits in silence in the historic church. It doesn’t work. It’s old, dusty and worn. It’s fragile.

It’s beautiful.

“To have a piece of the history of the original building is very exciting,” said Kathleen Durfee, with the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation, which manages Old Mission State Park for the Coeur d’Alene Tribe.

The organ was delivered to the oldest building and church in the state, thanks to the Knights of Columbus and member Harvey Allen, who drove 1,400 miles roundtrip to get it in Redding, Calif., and bring it home.

Yes, home.

Grand Knight Jim Burkhardt said records indicate that at one time, the organ was inside the Mission of the Sacred Heart, constructed between 1850 and 1853.

“At some point, the organ disappeared,” he said. “The records are not clear on when it went missing or how.”

Recently, a resident of Redding contacted Durfee and said he had the organ from the Old Mission Church and wanted to return it.

“I have your organ,” the person told Durfee.

Burkhardt said the individual has family ties to a town near Cataldo but declined to explain how they came into possession of the organ.

“Further, the individual stated they were planning to move and unless the park made arrangements to transport the organ soon, they would be forced to take it to a landfill,” he said.

Durfee knew the organ had to be saved and she also knew who could go on such a rescue mission.

She called the Knights of Columbus Council 12560 in Post Falls.

Burkhardt spread the word.

“Given the prominence that the Old Mission Church has in the history of the Catholic Church in Idaho, the Coeur d’Alenes Old Mission State Park and the Knights of Columbus have a special relationship,” he said.

Years ago, the Knights assisted in replacing the roof on the Old Mission Church. Earlier this summer, the Knights along with parishioners from St. George’s Catholic Church completed a major painting project at the park.

Durfee’s request for help in getting the organ returned was sent to more than 100 Knights. Six responded, offering to either transport the organ themselves from Redding to Cataldo or to pay to have it shipped.

“I said, ‘I could do that,’” Allen said.

Later, Allen drove his Ford F-150 to Redding and transported the 100-pound organ back.

He said the trip went well, other than the usual construction, bugs and people.

“The hard part was the direction Google gave me to get to the guy’s house,” Allen said, smiling.

Monday, Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation staff carried the carefully wrapped organ inside the church. Made by Mason & Hamlin Organ Company, it stands next to the church’s other organ, which works.

As they took off the wrap, they put a few pieces in place and examined it.

“Looks pretty good,” Burkhardt said.

Durfee said the organ may be restored and she plans to research its history.

“I’ll be doing some sleuthing on it to see if I can find out more,” she said.

Meanwhile, she praised the Knights, an organiation which has been involved in the preservation of the Cataldo Mission since the 1930s, and the donors, who wanted the organ back where it belonged.

“The kindness of people to get it here is amazing,” she said.

Burkhardt said they were glad to do their part.

“We have a vested interest in keeping the place looking nice and helping them when we can,” he said. “This organ was originally part of this church, the oldest Catholic church in Idaho. It was important that we got this artifact back where it came from.”


BILL BULEY/Press Grand Knight Jim Burkhardt, left, watches as Kathleen Dufee looks over the 1878 organ delivered to Mission of the Sacred Heart on Monday. Watching are Lanny Neipert and Chris Nash.


BILL BULEY/Press Chris Nash, left, and Lanny Neipert inspect the 1878 organ in the Mission of the Sacred Heart and at Old Mission State Park on Monday.


BILL BULEY/Press The pedals are worn on the 1878 organ delivered to the Old Mission State Park in Cataldo on Monday.