Spreckels Organ Pavilion, San Diego, California

Spreckels Organ Pavilion, San Diego, California

Spreckels Organ Pavilion is home of the world's largest outdoor pipe organ.

Spreckels Organ Pavilion was constructed for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park. It is located at the corner of President's Way and Pan American Road East in the park.


The Organ was built by Austin Organs, Inc. as their Opus #453. It has 73 ranks totaling 4518 pipes and faces north to protect the Organ from sun and rain. Unfortunately, that means the audience is often facing the sun or rain during concerts.


Free organ concerts are given each Sunday at 2 p.m., sponsored by the San Diego Park and Recreation Department and Spreckels Organ Society. In summer, concerts are also held Monday evenings (International Organ Festival), and the Park Concert series on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Dr. Carol Williams is the Civic Organist since 2001, the only woman civic organist in the United States.

Around Christmas the Community Christmas Center Committee places a Nativity display at the pavalion, and also allows secular and non-Christian religious symbols to be placed nearby.


John D. Spreckels, son of sugar magnate Claus Spreckels decided to move to Coronado, California after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. He became one of the wealthiest and powerful men in San Diego County.

Spreckels followed the philosophy of the Good Steward in the New Testament, as did his siblings and father. Spreckels' gifts to San Diego and Coronado were many. Spreckels also wanted the Panama-California Exposition to succeed and show San Diego to the world in a good light. He contributed and promoted the Exposition.He gave the organ pavilion as a gift to "the people of San Diego" and "the people of all the world". Spreckels also donated the services of organ tuner Dr. Humphrey J. Stewart for the two-year run of the Exposition. After the Exposition Spreckels extended Dr. Stewart's contract.

Spreckels chose Harrison Albright to design the Organ Pavilion. Albright was a self-taught Los Angeles architect, who previously designed the U. S. Grant Hotel in downtown San Diego. The semi-circular pavilion was built in an ornate Italian-Renaissance design.Spreckels donated $33,500 for the Organ and $66,500 for the Pavilion.The organ was dedicated December 31, 1914.When Spreckels died in 1923, the pavilion was used for a memorial service.

During the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition the stage size was doubled and a fountain added. The fountain can be lit at night and is modeled after one in Chapultepec Park in Mexico City.

In 1981 the pavilion was restored and in 2002 the organ was expanded from 3400 to 4518 pipes.

Spreckels also donated $100,000 for the Spreckels Organ at California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, as a tribute to his brother Adolph, who was dying from syphilis. Adolph died before it was completed.

ee also

* Spreckels Organ, San Francisco, California

External links

* [http://www.serve.com/sosorgan Spreckels Organ Society] Contains concert schedule information
* [http://www.sandiegohistory.org/bpbuildings/organ.htm "The Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park"] by Richard Amero (San Diego Historical Society)
* [http://www.sandiego.gov/park-and-recreation/parks/balboa/spreckelsorgan.shtml "Spreckels Organ Pavilion"] (San Diego Park and Recreation Department)

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