Rebuilding roads of the past...
The relationship between the Peragallo family and St. Francis Xavier Church can be traced back to my great grandfather, John Peragallo Sr., who worked as an organ curator at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on 5th Avenue at the turn of the 20th century. There he met and became close friends with another first-generation Italian-American of pipe organ fame, Pietro Alessandro-Yon. Yon came to the United States to play the Hook and Hasting organ at St. Francis Xavier. It is during this tenure that the famous Christmas favorite, Gesu Bambino, originated. The pipe façade of the Hook and Hasting organ was restored as part of this organ restoration and still stands in the balcony.
Sitting at the center of our organ factory is a portrait of Pietro Yon that we pass every day on the way into work. It has been hanging there longer than even my father or uncle can remember. It sits adjacent to a photo of John Peragallo Sr. and concert programs and certificates of Pietro Yon’s dedication of the first Peragallo pipe organ at St. Michael’s Church in Paterson, New Jersey, in 1922. Yon went on to dedicate four of my great grandfathers instruments, including the Church of the Transfiguration on Mott Street in the Chinatown section of Manhattan.
Little did we know that after so many years, our family’s connection with Pietro Yon was about to uncover another chapter within a new generation of organ builders. In 1993, we were awarded the contract to restore the famous Kilgen organs at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue in New York City.
The original Jardine pipe organ at St. Patrick’s was maintained by John Peragallo Sr. before he started the Peragallo Organ Company in 1918. The current 150 rank organ at the Cathedral was originally designed with the assistance of Pietro Yon in the 1930s after his tenure at St. Francis Xavier Church.
My grandfather, John Jr., company president in 1993, took great pride in restoring and expanding the instrument to speak with full magnificence in the same sanctuary that his father and Pietro Yon had worked some 80 years before him.
The refurbishment of the Church of St. Francis Xavier has opened a new chapter in the relationship with the Peragallo family. St. Francis Xavier was a home to a great friend of our family for many years, and the Peragallo Family is honored to have the opportunity to restore and inspire the sacred by bringing a new instrument to your vibrant parish.
- John Peragallo IV