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August 14, 2020

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Interested in owning a piece of Bluffton church musical history?

The old St. Mary's pump organ is looking for a new home

Interested in owning a piece of Bluffton church musical history?

The organ in the “old” St. Mary’s Catholic Church could be yours. It has rested in a garage since the mid-1960s and needs a new home, according to its current caretaker, Betty Pakosz of Sylvania.

Older Bluffton residents will identify Betty as the daughter of Rita Hankish, who grew up in Bluffton, over a half-century past.

This summer Betty contacted the Icon, inquiring if we could assist finding a new home of the organ.

Here’s some additional background on the organ:
It’s a Hamilton pump organ, 49-inches wide, 43-inches high and 23-inches deep.

Or course, it has witnessed every wedding, funeral, confirmation and Sunday mass in the no-longer-standing St. Mary’s church.  That church faced Lawn Avenue and its location is now part of St. Mary’s parking lot.

Betty says that her mother, Rita, the oldest of the Hankish kids, was a music teacher before she married in 1949 and moved to Elyria.

“The story goes that when the “new [current ] church” was built, the congregation gave the organ to Rita because she  had played the organ for St. Mary’s,” said Betty, adding that she remembers that when it arrived in Elyria, it was in the living room for some time, then relegated to the attic.

“In 1978, when my husband, Ned, and I bought our first home, we moved it to Bowling Green to help fill our living room.

“In 1987 when we built in Sylvania, we moved it back to Elyria, and it’s been in my parents’ garage ever since.

“Since it is a pump organ,  I think that Mom had said that one of the bellows was broken. The photo with this story was taken earlier this summer.

“We hate to depart with it,  but have been unable to find it a home.  I’ve made multiple calls to churches, colleges, historical societies, with no takers,” said Betty.

Betty says that she is happy to talk with any Icon viewer who has an interest in the organ. Viewers may contact her at 419-345-9482, or e-mail at bpakosz@yahoo.com.