Today in history


Fritz Pollard, the first African American professional football coach, is born in Chicago.

View all days in history...


Gift Membership

Are you looking for a great gift for the person who has everything or who loves history? Consider a gift membership to the Illinois State Historical Society. Click Message us below and include the comment "Gift Membership" or call the office (217) 525-2781.

Message Us...

View the calendar of events

Submit your local history event

Do you have an exciting local history news story or an event that you would like to share? Use this form to submit it and after a quick review it will be added to our news roll or events calendar. The goal is to add news and events from all over the state to celebrate Illinois’ rich history. Get involved and get the word out about news and events in your area.


Our online store is now open

The Illinois State Historical Society has worked hard to open an online store which features literature and hard-goods which are related to Illinois. These are often hard to find or limited run items.

If you have a history buff on in your family that is hard to buy for this is your place to shop! While anyone can purchase items we offer additional discounts to ISHS members. Visit our store to browse the current inventory of items, item availability and inventory will change often.

Visit our store

Image of tablet with online cart on it
graphic with subscribe in text

Become a Member

Becoming a member not only supports the Illinois State Historical Society, but also delivers excellent benefits to you giving you an excellent source of historical literature and resources. We offer multiple membership options for all stages and income levels. Look at our Membership area to find a plan that will work for you and join TODAY.

Membership Options

Latest News

The Organ Benefactions of Andrew Carnegie in Central Illinois

Menard County Historical Society

  • 9 May 2019
  • Author: Elaine Evans
  • Number of views: 1856

Event date: 5/23/2019 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM Export event

The Organ Benefactions of Andrew Carnegie in Central Illinois

From 1895 until his death in 1919, philanthropist Andrew Carnegie made a tremendous contribution to community culture and musical heritage throughout central Illinois. Known for his matching gifts to create public libraries across the country, Carnegie also helped churches and community centers purchase pipe organs as instruments of cultural enrichment, celebrating his love of music and his belief that musical expression uplifted the soul. Carnegie’s Foundation in New York called these pipe-organ matching gifts “benefactions,” and more than 8,000 were manufactured and distributed worldwide, 207 in Illinois alone. Carnegie’s pipe organ gifts outnumbered his libraries by more than 3-1, yet these musical endowments are almost unknown. Until now.

On Thursday, May 23 at 7 p.m., the First Christian Church of Petersburg, one of those 207 Illinois churches to receive a Carnegie “benefaction,” will host a program/concert with Paula Pugh Romanaux, Ph.D., D.M.A., for the Menard County Historical Society in the church sanctuary. The program is free and open to the public.

Dr. Romanaux, a concert organist, teacher, and early music scholar for more than 45 years, will discuss the Carnegie Benefactions, identify other Carnegie pipe organs in the state, and perform a short recital on the church’s historic instrument.

"I learned to play on a Carnegie organ gift instrument at the Christian Church in Virginia, Illinois," says Romanaux. "It was a hand-pumped instrument that my father pumped when he attended there as a child. But when I was practicing on that organ as a teenager, the bellows had been converted to an electric pumping system."

After more than 100 years, the Carnegie organ in Virginia, built by the Boston-based company Hook and Hastings, is still in excellent shape, although it doesn't get played much, says Romanaux, who inspected and played it recently. The organ at First Christian Church in Petersburg was build by the Hinners Organ Company of Pekin, Illinois, and installed during the first decade of the last century. Romanaux says that it's a still beautiful instrument with many outstanding features.

The program is sponsored by the Menard County Historical Society, with support from Illinois Humanities and the Illinois State Historical Society as part of their “Forgotten Illinois” grant series, which seeks to engage audiences with unknown or lost history of the Prairie State. The series, now in its second season, is part of an Illinois Bicentennial initiative that will continue throughout the year.

After the program, light refreshments will be served. For more information about the concert, call 217-525-2518.

First Christian Church
210 South 8th Street
Petersburg, Illinois 62675 (Map)

Categories: Events
Rate this article:
No rating

View article archives

Upcoming events Events RSSiCalendar export


Add Article

Please do not use this button to submit or follow-up on submissions for the Illinois Heritage or Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society. Instead visit the links below for the correct submission information.

Terms Of UsePrivacy StatementCopyright 2021 by Illinois State Historical Society
Back To Top