Wicks Pipe Organ Co. View Extant Instruments View Instruments


Highland, Illinois, from 1906.
Classification: Builder

Update This Entry
August 20, 2015:

From the OHS Organ Database Builders Listing editor, March 14, 2016. -

The Wicks Organ Company started in the early 1900's on the second floor of a jewelry and watch-making store in Highland, Illinois. The local Catholic priest had asked John Wick to study organ and become the church organist. When the parish wanted a pipe organ to replace their aging reed organ, John Wick, with the help of his brothers, Louis and Adolph, started to work. Using their talents as a watchmaker, a cabinet maker, and a jeweler, the three Wick brothers created a small mechanical action instrument that successfully met the needs of their church. Nearby churches heard of their work, and wanted the same for their growing parishes. The Wicks created more of their instruments, and interest in organs built locally grew. In 1908, the three Wick brothers incorporated the Wicks Organ Company, and began producing pipe organs for homes and churches in Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri. The company expanded over time from a regional concern to selling organs across the nation.

The Wicks initially used all mechanical action, but with the advent of electricity and electric blowers, began to experiment with electro-pneumatic actions. There are surviving examples of their work today, but John Wick thought that an organ could be operated purely electrically, avoiding the difficulties of pneumatic actions. By 1914, Wicks had developed their patented electric action. Named DIRECT-ELECTRIC® for the electrical connection directly from the key to the valve, this device remedied some of the difficulties of the pneumatic actions: They had only one moving part, no perishable leather, could be arranged in any fashion, were easily serviceable, and could function under almost any wind pressure. The chest was also lighter and more compact than the pitman electropneumatic chest giving Wicks an advantage when space was tight for installation. The action also made unification simple as key and stop action were combined. Voicing was more controversial, some voicers complained the turbulence from the air blowing directly from the plenum into the pipes made the pipe voicing difficult. The DIRECT-ELECTRIC® Action was first patented in 1922, an improved version was patented in 1929.

Wick opus numbers were well over 6,000 when they stopped manufacturing new pipe organs and downsized the company in 2011, but continued operation as a service company. It also continued building consoles and electronic organs using Walker Technical digital voices, a business it had started in the 1990s. Pipe organ production resumed in 2014 with Opus 6475. Wicks currently offers pipe, electronic, and combination instruments.


  1. Wicks Organ Co. website, http://organ.wicks.com/, Accessed Oct 28, 2015.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Terry Hillig, "Highland Organ Company Downsizing Amid Sour Notes in Market" St. Louis Post-Dispatch January 14, 2011.
  4. Tim Bryant, "Wicks Organ Survives Downturn, Resumes Production" St. Louis Post-Dispatch December 8, 2014.

We received the most recent update for this note from Database Manager on April 29, 2019.

October 30, 2004:

From the OHS PC Database, derived from A Guide to North American Organbuilders by David H. Fox (Organ Historical Society, 1991). -

Established by brothers John F. Wick and Louis Wick in Highland, Illinois, 1906, third brother, Adolph Wick later joined the firm; firm active in 2015.

Staff: A. L. Abrams; A. James Aebel; Benjamin Alarcon; Randy Alberternst; Charles W. Allen; Warren Andrews; Edward Begueline; Samuel W. Bihr; Stephen D. Bodman; Herman Boettcher; Daniel Bogue; Walwin J. Bosche, Jr.; John Brown; Eugene J. Buchheim; John Buchheim; Kerry Bunn; Thomas N. Bunting; William Bust; Kim W. Capelle; Mark Capelle; Frank Capra; Robert Capra; F. Louis Church; C. B. Cooper; S. H. Dembinsky; Robert Dornoff; Alan Draper; Frederick R. Durst; Melvin W. Dunn; Michael Earp; Ronald F. Ellis; Walter Evans; Edward Friedrich; Hugo Frey; George Gibbons; Charles W. Gibson; John W. Gratian; Mae Greeley; Green & Associates; Hugo Grimmer; Ronald Hall; Edwin Haslsam; H. W. Hauffe; Steve Hedstrom; Richard Hendy; (Ernest G. Hepp?); Arthur W. Hinners; Carl Huber; Evan Jackson; Charles Jantzen; Albert E. Jarvis; Jack Jenkins; Russell Joseph; Arnie Kantnor; Otto Kast; A. J. Katt; George B. Kemp, Jr.; C. W. Kimball; Dennis Klug; August Lane; Albert E. Lloyd; Agnes Lodes; Joseph Lodes; Kathryn Lodes; C. Seibert Losh; Peter Luley; Mayme Lynch; Dana Maerz; Rose Mettler; Charles T. Meyer, Sr.; Charles Mosley; W. J. Mullaney; Cletus A. Nagel; Dan Nealon; E. J. 'Pat' Netzer; Charles C. Newlon; Allan J. Ontko; Gerald Orvold; Christopher Orf; A. R. Payne; Pipe Organ Sales & Service; Maurice Plog; Paul Plog; Pro Dolor; Henry Redoehl; David Ressler; Adolph C. Reuter; Robert Reuter; Blaine Ricketts; Jan R. Rowland; Max Runge; J. A. Schaefer; Jim Schmidt; Roy Schwarz; Richard Schumacher; Leo Seifried; William Seifried; Preston Showman; John E. Sperling; Robert M. Sperling; Anthony Spevere; Spirek; George Stoff; Otto Storff; Pieter Visser; Ernest C. Vogelpohl; John P. Walsh; William R. Wannemacher; Joseph G. Weickhardt; Joseph Westhoff; August Wick; Barbara Wick; Edgar Wick; Edmund Wick; Eleanore Wick; George C. Wick; Mark Wick; Martin M. Wick; Mary Wick; Ole E. Wick; Scott Wick; Victor Wick; Paul Wilkin; Henry V. Willis; Elmer Winter; Florence Winter; Jack M. Wyatt; Walter Zimmerman; William Zweifel.

We received the most recent update for this note from Database Manager on April 29, 2019.

Database Specs:

  • 273 Organs
  • 46 Divisions
  • 30 Consoles