Largest unaltered pipe organ in California turns 130 in San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- In an old Catholic church in North Beach, an even older organ proudly plays tunes you've probably heard before, including the "Star Spangled Banner" and "Happy Birthday." California's largest unaltered pipe organ is celebrating its 130th birthday.

The organ was built in Boston but was first installed at First Unitarian Church on Franklin Street in San Francisco. After the 1906 earthquake, it was moved to North Beach.

"It sounds just like it did in 1888," said Josh Bradshaw, who takes care of the organ at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.

The church was recently restored and turned into an event space.

"We found a motor to hook up to pump the air and I sat down and I played it and it was absolutely amazing," Bradshaw said. "Full body goose pimples if you will."

"It actually feels really really old. Like it feels 130 years old," said musician Suzanne Ramsy. "But it feels like it's in really good shape. It's like a lady who has maintained herself quite well."

Ramsy is also a native San Franciscan and was curious about the organ when she heard about the event. "it almost feels like this crazy living, breathing thing. I'm serious. And it feels really powerful."

The owners of the building plan to hold more events to show off their organ in the future.

Click here for more information on the church and event space.
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