St. Mary's Cathedral

Portland, Oregon

L.A. Art Organ Company, 1904
Restoration with additions
III / 37 stops • 41 ranks


The organ was originally built in 1904 by the Los Angeles Art Organ Co., under the direction of Murray M. Harris, for Holy Cross Catholic Church in San Francisco. While still nearly new, the organ was severely damaged in the 1906 earthquake. The north bell tower of the church actually collapsed in on the building, crushing the Great and Choir divisions.

Repairs were carried out immediately by a local firm using pipes, new windchests, and other parts supplied by the original builder. Much of the repair work was not of the original quality, but the organ nevertheless remained in service for many years. By the 1980s, the organ was in serious need of a complete restoration. The earthquake of 1989 forced the closure of the parish, and the organ remained orphaned in the condemned building. In 1995, the Archdioscese of Portland acquired the instrument, with the intent of installing it in St. Mary's Cathedral. 

A Careful Removal 

The restoration of the organ was part of a complete renovation of St. Mary's Cathedral, celebrating the 150th anniversary of its founding. The first phase of the organ project involved disassembly and removal of the instrument at Holy Cross, perched high on the rear balcony with a narrow, winding staircase its only access. Most of the internal parts were carried down the staircase by hand, and the casework and facade lowered by hand over the balcony.

This method would be impossible, however, for lowering the windchests and largest 16' open wood pipes. To this end, a crane was erected outside, and a hole was broken in the roof just large enough to allow the crane hook to pass into the building. Each of the organ’s largest components was roped to the crane and lowered down to the main floor of the church


Once safely in Portland, a thorough cleaning was necessary for every component of the instrument. Having been blackened by many year's accumulation of dust and soot (up to 1/4”), every part was restored as much as possible to original condition.

This process included the seemingly endless task of releathering. Leather was in need of complete replacement in all windchests, all parts of the electro-pneumatic action, winding system, and wood pipes. In consideration of the organ's historical value, all parts of the original patented electro-pneumatic action were retained and meticulously adjusted.

All the pipes were cleaned and revoiced for the new room. Damaged pipes were repaired, and missing pipes replaced. The finish on the case and console was cleaned and restored. The stenciling on the facade pipes was copied, the pipes stripped and new paint applied using the original design. The color scheme and the Victorian style of the organ façade proved to be an ideal match for the architecture of the newly restored Cathedral. 

Tasteful Addtions

The instrument was crowned by four additional stops, carried out by Bond after very careful study of other instruments built by Murray Harris. These stops allow for performance of a broader range of organ literature, and are consistent in style and tone with stops that would have been built in 1904.



16’ Double Open Diapason
8’ Open Diapason
8’ Open Diapason (2nd)
8’ Viola da Gamba
8’ Viola d'Amour
8’ Doppel Flute
4’ Octave
2-2/3’ Super Octave
Mixture III-IV*
8’ Trumpet


16’ Bourdon
8’ Violin Diapason
8’ Viol d'Orchestre
8’ Aeoline
8’ Voix celeste
8’ Stopped diapason
4’ Fugara
4’ Harmonic Flute
2’ Flautina
Cornet IV*
8’ Oboe
8’ Vox humana


8’ Geigen Principal
8’ Dulciana
8’ Melodia
4’ Violina
4’ Flute d'Amour
2’ Harmonic Piccolo
8’ Clarinet


32’ Resultant*
16’ Open Diapason
16’ Bourdon
16’ Lieblich Gedackt
8’ Violoncello
8’ Flute, Stopped
16’ Trombone* 


Pedal to Octave
Swell to Pedal
Swell to Choir
Swell to Pedal
Choir to Pedal
Swell to Great Octave
Swell to Great
Choir to Great
Choir to Great Sub-octave

* Stops added by Bond