Our Organ


The organ in St. Joseph Church was built by the master organ-builder Henry Willis & Sons, Ltd. The Willis' family firm was founded in 1845 and still exists today. It remains a mystery just when and for where St. Joseph’s organ was originally built, but speculation has it at about 1871, and possibly for an exhibition. It was installed in Christ Church, in the north London Borough of Haringey in 1892, with some modifications to make it fit the building. Father Willis, an Episcopal priest, build some of the finest organs in the world and they grace such spaces as London's St. Paul's Cathedral, Westminster Cathedral, Edinburgh Cathedral, Blenheim Palace, and St. Patrick's Cathedral in Drogheda, Ireland. 

When Christ Church was torn down in 1981, the great Willis organ was purchased by St. Joseph Parish, through the assistance of the Organ Clearing House, an international organization dedicated to the preservation of historic pipe-organs. Dismantled and stacked in two sea-going containers, the organ arrived in Seattle in November of 1981, and was placed in storage in the church. The inauguration and dedication of the Willis organ of the organ was in 1987 and it has been in continuous service ever since.

The organ contains 32 registers, for a total of 1,820 pipes, ranging in size from over sixteen feet down to less than a half-inch. There are three keyboards for the hands, and pedals for the feet. All the actions in the organ are entirely mechanical, with a pneumatic power-assist (the “Barker machine”) for the Great key-action and the manual couplers. All the pipes visible in the façade are true speaking pipes, and are the lowest notes of the Violone 16’ of the Pedal, and the Open Diapason 8’ of the Great. The pipes of the Swell division are enclosed in a wooden box with shutters for volume control; all the rest of the pipes are open to the room, behind the façade pipes and casework.

Restoration and rebuilding of the Willis organ, and installation in the church, were done by organ builder Kenneth Coulter of Eugene, Oregon, assisted by Hal Manning. The organ remains tonally exactly as Henry Willis built it. New casework was built to harmonize with the church interior, the facade pipes were rearranged and decorated to suit the space, and all the interior mechanisms were restored, repaired, or rebuilt. A new choir gallery was also built to house the organ and musicians. 


Specifications of the Organ by Henry Willis and Sons, London, 1871(?). Installed in Christ Church, West Green by Henry Willis and Sons, 1892; rebuilt and installed in Saint Joseph Parish, Seattle, Washington, by Kenneth Coulter, 1987. The organ is currently maintained by Paul Fritts and Company of Tacoma, Washinton.

Great (Manual II)

16 Double Diapason
8 Open Diapason (15 in façade)
8 Claribel Flute
4 Octave
4 Harmonic Flute
3 Twelfth
2 Fifteenth
8 Trumpet

Choir (Manual I)

8 Gamba
8 Lieblich Gedact
8 Dulciana
4 Concert Flute
2 2/3 Nazard (altered 1892?)
2 Piccolo
8 Clarinet

Swell (Manual III)

16 Lieblich Bourdon
8 Open Diapason
8 Lieblich Gedact
8 Salcional
8 Vox Angelica
4 Gemshorn
2 Flageolet
Mixture III
16 Contra Oboe
8 Cornopean
8 Oboe
4 Clarion


16 Open Diapason Pedale
16 Violone Pedale (24 in façade)
16 Bourdon Pedale
8 Flute Bass Pedale
16 Ophicleide Pedale


Swell to Great Unison
Swell Sub Octave (to Great)
Swell Super Octave (to Great)
Choir to Great
Great to Pedals
Swell to Pedals
Choir to Pedals
Pedal Movements
Great to Pedals Reversible
Swell Combinations: Piano, Mezzo, Forte
Great Combinations: Piano, Mezzo, Forte, Full
Blanced Swell Shoe
Manual compass: C-a’’’, 58 notes
Pedal compass: C-f’, 30 notes
Barker lever to Great key-action
and all manual couplers
Concave-radiating Willis pedalboard
Vallotti Temperament


Patrons of the Organ

(November, 1981 - December, 1982)

Anonymous Donors, Genevieve G. Albers, Brass Ensemble Benefit, Mr. and Mrs. John E. Brennan, A. Buono Construction Co., Catherine Burke, Madalin Douglass, W.M. Eason, Dr. and Mrs. Huber Grimm, Warren Guykema, Dr. James W. Haviland, Mary E. Hennesey, Senator Henry M. Jackson, Charles F. Johnston, Patrick J. Keaty, Blanche B. Ketcham, Ida Long, J. Brian Losh, Christopher Maddock, Muriel Mawer, Mr. and Mrs. James McAteer, John McDonald, Isley B. Nordstrom, Bernard J. O'Neill, Col. and Mrs. E.J. O'Shaughnessy, Nancy C. Paris, Dr. and Mrs. Ted Regimbal, Margaret Rourke, St. Joseph's Senior Benefit, St. Martin's Abbey, Dr. and Mrs. Lester Sauvage, Mrs. R.W. Scheetz, Mr. and Mrs. James Smersh, Mr. and Mrs. Francis J. Sweeney, Ruth Swindock, Mr. and Mrs. John Sylvester, Beverly and Ray Tabor, Charles Patrick Taylor Memorial, Francis X. Webb, Helen Wesselink, Wester Cartage Company, Forrest Williams, Larry Zelenak-Jeanne Moskal