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National Register #78000759: Schoenstein Organ Company in San Francisco
7 June 2003
(Click Photo to Zoom)
National Register #78000759
Schoenstein Organ Company
3101 20th Street At Alabama
Inner Mission
Built 1928

The faded inscription painted across the facade reads: Felix E Schoenstein & Sons, Pipe Organs, Established 1877. Because San Francisco's Mission District seems an unlikely location for a pipe organ company, a casual observer would guess that he inscription has been preserved for sentimental reasons. The casual observer would be wrong. Schoenstein Organ continues to build and maintain pipe organs for churches throughout the country.

The company was founded in 1877 by Felix Schoenstein. His son Louis managed it for sixty-four years until his retirement in 1962. Louis' younger brother continued to manage the family business until 1997 when he sold it, one century after its founding.

The new owner continues to operate from this Mission District building and recently added additional facilities in Benicia.

Schoenstein organs can be heard at many Bay Area churches, notably the National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi, San Francisco Landmark 5, where in 1926, Schoenstein installed a two-manual, two-pedal gallery organ with six sets of pipes and chimes. Because this somewhat modest organ was all that the parish could afford at the time, Schoenstein designed it to facilitate expansion.

The parish had to wait fifty years, but in 1978, the gallery organ was returned to Schoenstein where it was rebuilt and reinstalled in the church with 1,032 pipes. Three more stops were added in 1993 increasing the number of pipes to 1,301.

At the time of this writing, the shrine presents concerts aeach Sunday afternoon.

The Schoenstein Organ Company is also San Francisco Landmark 99.
 
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