St. John’s Abbey Raising Funds for New Woodworking Shop, Organ Company
COLLEGEVILLE -- The monks at St. John's Abbey have a history of making their own furniture that dates all the way back to 1867. In fact, every monk that goes through the monastery has to start out at the Abbey Woodworking Shop.
Father Lew Grobe is the head of the facility. He says they mostly make furniture for the monastery, the prep school, and the university using wood that they harvest from the surrounding forest.
Just to give you a sense of what we build, we have dining chairs in our dining room that are well over 100 years old. They are built here. Sometimes the glue gives out. Bring it back down to Abbey Woodworking, we'll put some more glue into it, make sure everything is in order, and it goes back up.
Grobe says some of their work does go off campus like caskets, crosses, and urns. He says they'll also do some custom work like the chairs they are making right now for some sisters in north Minneapolis.
Their current main building was built in 1913 and they are spread out over seven buildings around campus. That is why they have a capital campaign right now to raise $11.5 million to build a new facility putting all of Abbey Woodworking under one roof. It would be on the site of the current lumber shed and carpentry shop.
A premier designer, builder, and installer of pipe organs would like to move his entire operation from Washington state to Stearns County. Martin Pasi recently was recently commissioned by St. John's Abbey to expand the existing organ, and during that two-year project, he came to know St. John's well. As part of the new facility, Pasi Organ Builders would make it their new headquarters.
Grobe says the vision is to use the space to help teach the craft of organ building.
To have a place where people could come to learn the traditional craft of organ building in the style that Martin does it. To also bring organ builders together for conferences and have a first-rate shop. He brought the idea to us that it would be the perfect place to do this.
The Abbey is planning to apply for money through the American Rescue Grant saying that it will create jobs, and it would be a place for workforce training in organ building and woodworking. They've also had over 600 people donate money in just the past few months.
The two-story 35,000 square foot building is targeted for opening in late 2023.