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One university treasure is destined for a higher calling than the dump.The Clapp Recital Hall Casavant pipe organ will find a new home with the University Heights-based St. Andrew Presbyterian Church congregation. Although its keys will not be played until it is installed at the church’s future location along Camp Cardinal Boulevard, it narrowly avoided being scrapped.Matthew Penning, director of music ministries at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church, said the congregation is buzzing with excitement.“It’s an extremely exciting opportunity for us,” he said.St. Andrew Presbyterian Church was one of six candidates representing churches, universities and music lovers across the country in the running to receive the organ before the Hancher-Voxman-Clapp building is leveled this fall. FEMA required the organ to stay at the building until the contractor, Reinbeck-based Peterson Contractors Inc., decided its fate.If contractors could not find a suitable space, the organ was expected to be demolished with the building.Cork Peterson, owner of Peterson Contractors Inc., originally said the plan was to seek the highest bidder for the instrument. He did not return a request for comment Tuesday.Penning said Peterson Contractors Inc. donated the instrument to St. Andrew. Penning said news of the donation was announced Sunday, and churchgoers are coming out of the woodwork to express their appreciation for the organ and the opportunity to work with the community.“People who we wouldn’t think would have an interest in an organ are ecstatic about the fact that we can be a part of retaining this instrument,” he said. “The first thing I always hear from them is what a great way to give back and to reach out to the community. While we have a great instrument to worship with and things like that, that’s kind of second on their minds.”Penning said his desire for the organ “came down to saving the instrument.” During planning conversations for the new, larger church, Penning said the organ came up time and time again.“We became more and more interested in it when possibilities really started emerging from people and their ideas that the church is a sanctuary, not only a vehicle for worship,” he said.Penning said Heartland Express, a North Liberty trucking company, donated a semi-truck to haul the instrument from Iowa City to Dobson Pipe Organ Builders in Lake City.A representative from Heartland Express did not return a request for comment Tuesday.Dean Zenor, administrative and key action specialist at Dobson Pipe Organ Builders, said his shop is prepared for the instrument. Zenor said the shop regularly works with large organs, including the behemoth at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, with its longest pipe measuring at 42 feet long.“It’s quite a wonderful instrument, and we understood that if they didn’t find a home for it, it was going to be taken to the dump,” he said.Zenor said a replacement for the organ would be valued at more than $1.5 million.“It was built many decades ago, and it’s a product of its time as far as what it sounds like and what it looks like,” he said.Penning estimates the organ’s removal, cleaning, storage and reinstallation will cost the church $400,000, which will be sourced from donations from the church and community, and a small portion from the construction budget.Penning said the church is looking for volunteers next week to assist with tearing it down, from handing down pipes in the balcony to labeling parts.The mechanical and electric-stop action organ — built in 1971 — is composed of three manuals, 74 ranks, 3,796 pipes, an attached drawknob keydesk, and manual and pedal compasses in a gallery-level case. All of these pieces must be carefully dismantled, sorted, labeled and packaged before they reach the truck.Zenor said the shop has enough room to store the instrument long term, including tall pipes that must rest upright and a litany of crates and wooden trays. The organ repair shop then will modify the instrument if necessary and install it at its permanent location.“The fact it’s been at the university and enjoyed by probably thousands and thousands of people as a recital instrument or students learning on it makes it all the more special to the Iowa City area,” Zenor said. “You don’t just throw something like that away.”
Adam Wesley Updated: 13 October 2013 | 11:30 am in Life & Accent, Local NewsIowa City organ, under restoration, to be moved to St. Andrew$1.7 million organ was damaged during 2008 flood TweetA treasured Iowa City instrument will have a future after being saved from its condemned location in the final weeks before demolition.A couple dozen volunteers assisted the Dobson Organ Co. in the dismantling and removal of the Casavant Opus 3105 pipe organ from the 2008 flood-damaged Clapp Recital Hall, in the Hancher-Voxman-Clapp complex on the University of Iowa campus, in a little over two weeks.Volunteers assist with disassembling the pipe organ at the University of Iowa's Clapp Recital Hall which was severely damaged in the 2008 flood and is soon to be demolished on Monday, August, 26, 2013 in Iowa City, Iowa. The organ is being taken apart piece by piece with the help of volunteers and will then be moved to under go cleaning and renovations at Dobson's Pipe Organ Builders in Lake City. The organ will be installed at the St. Andrew Presbyterian Church when its new building is completed around 2015. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)The organ, which has a replacement value of $1.7 million, is now at Dobson’s Lake City facility for restoration and storage until it can take its place at St Andrew Presbyterian Church’s new location in Iowa City.After discussions that included the possibility of selling the organ’s 3,796 pipes for scrap metal, Peterson Contractors Inc. donated the instrument to St. Andrew where it’s set to be installed in 2015, when the church’s new location is finished.“It wasn’t looked at like ‘we scored a really big organ,’” recalled Matthew Penning, St Andrew’s director of Music Ministries. “But as an opportunity to connect with the university and the larger community.”The process of removal, restoration and reinstallation will cost around $400,000, an amount for which the church will hold fundraisers in the upcoming months.Carroll Hanson, of Casavant, a Montreal-based organ manufacturer, was part of the team that installed the organ in Clapp Hall in 1972. At the time, it was the largest mechanical action pipe organ at a U.S. university.Hanson also was in charge of its maintenance during the 36 years it was in operation. It one of the most heavily used Casavant organs, with many weeks seeing more than 100 hours of use until the hall was flooded in 2008, Hanson recalled.“The instrument really came through the 40-some years in that room looking pretty darn good,” Hanson said.“I was delighted that it was going to have a happy future. It would have been a flat-out scandal had it been destroyed.”Penning, who volunteered alongside church and community members to get the organ removed in time, said the dismantling process was incredibly smooth, with no damage incurred — especially considering the hot weather and intermittent power losses during the work.“It’s fun to hear people say on Sundays that they’re excited, telling me, ‘Just wait until you’ll be able to play that piece on the new instrument,’” Penning said. “And that excitement will grow as it becomes more real.”