First Presbyterian Church - Brooklyn, NY
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First Presbyterian Church

124 Henry Street
Brooklyn, N.Y. 11201
http://www.fpcbrooklyn.org



Organ Specifications:
124 Henry Street (since 1847)
II/25 Van Zoeren Organs (1994)
III/40 Austin Organ Company, Op. 117 (1903)
• III/37 Hilborne L. Roosevelt, Op. 104 (1882)
III/38 Hall & Labagh (1847)
Cranberry Street (1822-1847)
III/19 Stevens & Gayetty (1836)



The First Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn was organized with ten members on March 10, 1822, incorporated on the 13th of the same month, and admitted to the Presbytery of New York on April 10. On the 15th of April the cornerstone was laid for a substantial church building to be erected on seven lots purchased in 1822 by John and Jacob M. Hicks. The seven lots were located on ground upon which the Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims now stands, running through from Cranberry to Orange streets. This building, which was considered in those days as “a very handsome brick building, something in the gothic style,” was seventy-two feet in length, and was afterwards enlarged by the addition of eighteen feet, making it ninety feet in depth, by fifty-five feet in width. A lecture room, including a sabbath school room and study, was attached to the rear of the church, fronting upon Orange street, in 1831.

In the quaint village of Brooklyn, which wouldn’t be incorporated as a city until 1834, First Presbyterian’s bell tower doubled as a fire alarm and its clock tower as the village timepiece. At that time the population of Brooklyn was less than ten thousand, and the enterprise was regarded by cautious men as hazardous; the church being built in what was then cultivated fields, and far out from the settled portion of the village, though now in the densest part of Brooklyn Heights.

On the 8th of May, 1837, the Rev. Samuel Hanson Cox, D.D., was installed as third pastor of this church. In November, 1838, the division of the synod of New York was followed by a corresponding division of the membership of this church. About forty families, including three elders and nearly one hundred members, claiming to be the legitimate representatives of the original founders of the church in their religious opinions and sentiments, preferred to retain their connection with the presbytery of New York, which remained attached to the old school synod and general assembly, and therefore asserting themselves to be the First Presbyterian church of Brooklyn, withdrew from Dr. Cox’s charge. The pastor, seven elders, and about five hundred and fifty members, acknowledging the jurisdiction of the presbytery of Brooklyn, continued on the even tenor of their way.

The old church in Cranberry Street was sold in June 1846, for the sum of $20,000, to parties who subsequently conveyed it to Plymouth church. On the 28th of July, 1846, the cornerstone was laid for the present church, located on Henry Street near the corner of Clark Street, and the edifice was first opened for service on the 6th of June, 1847. William B. Olmstead designed the new church that was built of great blocks of brownstone, standing at 90 feet tall and 30 feet wide. Elaborate black walnut was installed in and around the pulpit in 1882, and in that same year a new organ was installed.
           
  Van Zoeren Organ (1994) in First Presbyterian Church - Brooklyn, NY
Van Zoeren Organs
Hillsboro, Ore. (1994)
Electro-pneumatic action
2 manuals, 45 stops, 25 pipe ranks


The present organ in First Presbyterian Church was built in 1994 by Allan Van Zoeren and contains both pipe ranks and electronic stops. Van Zoeren Organs was established in Aloha, Oregon in 1980 by Allan Van Zoeren and Allen Harrah, and the firm was acquired by the Rodgers Organ Company in 1984, after which Van Zoeren Organs relocated to Hillsboro, Ore.
               
Great Organ (Manual I) – 61 notes
16
  Bourdon
61
2
  Blockflöte
61
8
  Principal
61
1 1/3
  Quint
61
8
  Gedeckt
61
    Mixture IV ranks
244
8
  Erzähler
digital
16
  Trompette
digital
8
  Erzähler Celeste
digital
8
  Trompette
digital
4
  Octave
61
8
  Cromorne
digital
4
  Koppelflöte
61
    Tremulant  
2
  Super Octave
61
       

     

     
Swell Organ (Manual II) – 61 notes, enclosed
8
  Gedeckt
61
2
  Flautino
61
8
  Viole
digital
1
  Sifflet
61
8
  Viole Celeste
digital
1 3/5
  Tierce
61
8
  Flute Dolce
61
    Cymbal III ranks
183
8
  Flute Celeste
61
16
  Bombarde
digital
4
  Principal
61
8
  Trompette
digital
4
  Spitzflöte
61
8
  Hautbois
digital
2 2/3
  Nasard
61
4
  Clairon
digital
2
  Octave
61
    Tremulant  
2
  Flautino
61
       
               
Pedal Organ – 32 notes
32
  Soubass
digital
4
  Choral Bass
digital
16
  Principal
digital
2
  Zauberflöte
digital
16
  Bourdon
digital
    Mixture IV ranks
digital
16
  Lieblich Gedeckt
GT
32
  Contra Bombarde
digital
8
  Octave  
16
  Bombarde
digital
8
  Gedeckt  
8
  Trompette
digital
4
  Koppelflöte  
4
  Clairon
digital
               
Couplers
    Great to Pedal 8'   Great to Great 4'
    Swell to Pedal 8', 4'   Swell to Swell 16', 4', Unison Off
    Swell to Great 16', 8', 4'    
           
  Hall & Labagh organ case (1849) in First Presbyterian Church - Brooklyn, NY
Austin Organ Company
Hartford, Conn. – Opus 117 (1903)
Electro-pneumatic action
3 manuals, 41 stops, 40 ranks



In 1903, the Austin Organ Company rebuilt and enlarged the 1882 Hilborne L. Roosevelt Organ. Austin retained the Roosevelt pipes but provided additional pipes to extend the manual compasses to 61 notes (Great and Choir) and 73 notes (Swell), and the Pedal compass to 32 notes. Austin added three ranks and increased the wind pressures to 5" and 10". A new Swell box had 3" thick walls that were "stuffed," but the Choir Organ was installed in the old Choir box. The rebuilt organ was masked by the 1847 Hall & Labagh case.
               
Great Organ (Manual II) – 61 notes
16
  Diapason
61
4
  Octave *
61
8
  Principal Diapason [new]
61
4
  Flute Harmonic
61
8
  Open Diapason
61
    Quint Mixture, 2 ranks *
122
8
  Gemshorn *
61
8
  Trumpet
61
8
  Doppel Flute
61
   
* enclosed with Choir

     

     
Swell Organ (Manual III) – 61 notes, enclosed
16
  Bourdon
73
4
  Hohl Flute
73
8
  Diapason
73
2
  Flageolet
61
8
  Spitz Flute
73
    Cornet, 3, 4 & 5 ranks
147?
8
  Dolce
73
16
  Contra Fagotto [new]
73
8
  Viole d'Orchestre
73
8
  Cornopean
73
8
  Viole Celeste
73
8
  Oboe
73
8
  Stopped Diapason
73
    Tremulant  
4
  Octave
73
       
               
Choir Organ (Manual I) – 61 notes, enclosed
8
  Diapason
GT
8
  Quintadena
61
8
  Violin d'Amour
61
4
  Rohr Flute
61
8
  Dolce
61
2
  Piccolo
61
8
  Concert Flute
61
8
  Clarinet
61
8
  Unda Maris [new]
61
    Tremulant  
               
Pedal Organ – 32 notes
16
  Diapason [wood]
44
10 2/3
  Quint
32
16
  Diapason
SW
8
  Violoncello
16
  Violone
44
8
  Flute
16
  Bourdon
GT
16
  Trombone
32
16
  Lieblich Gedacht
SW
     
               
Couplers
    Great to Pedal 8', 4'   Swell to Choir 16', 8', 4'
    Swell to Pedal 8', 4'   Great to Great 16', 8' Unison On, 4'
    Choir to Pedal 8'   Swell to Swell 16', 8' Unison On, 4'
    Swell to Great 16', 8', 4'   Choir to Choir 16', 8' Unison On, 4'
    Choir to Great 16', 8', 4'    
           
  Hilborne L. Roosevelt Organ, Op. 104 (1882) in First Presbyterian Church - Brooklyn, NY
Hilborne L. Roosevelt
New York City – Opus 104 (1882)
Tracker-pneumatic action
3 manuals, 33 registers, 37 stops





The 1847 Hall & Labagh organ was replaced in 1882 with a new instrument by Hilborne L. Roosevelt of New York City. Roosevelt retained the original Hall & Labagh case.

Specifications for this organ have not yet been located.
           
Hall & Labagh
New York City (1847)
Mechanical action
3 manuals, 31 stops, 38 ranks


The original organ in the present church was built in 1847 by Hall & Labagh of New York City and installed in the rear gallery. (The 1885 Hall & Labagh catalogue erroneously dates the organ as 1848.) It is interesting to note the influence of the 1846 Henry Erben organ for Trinity Church in New York City, including the unusual intermanual octave couplers (not then in common use in American organbuilding), and the inclusion of some unusual stops: the two Stopped Diapasons in the Great, the Cremona in the Swell, and the Mixture in the Choir.

The following stoplist is found in the Hall & Labagh letter files. Manual compasses were not given, but 59 pipes would indicate this was a "G Organ" with manual compasses from GGG (including GGG#) to f3. It is also unusual to find only full-compass stops in the Great and Choir.
               
Great Organ – 59 notes (GGG to f3)
16
  Open Diapason
59
3
  Twelfth
59
8
  2d. Open Diap.
59
    Cornet, 5 ranks
266
8
  Stop. Dn. Wood
59
    Sesquialtera, 4 ranks  
8
  Stop. Dn. Metal
59
8
  Trumpet
59
4
  Principal
59
4
  Clarion
59
               
Choir Organ – 59 notes (GGG to f3)
8
  Open Diapason
59
2
  Fifteenth
59
8
  Stopd. Diapason
59
    Mixture, 2 ranks
118
8
  Dulciano
59
8
  Cremona to C
42
4
  Principal
59
8
  Bassoon Bass [TC]
17
4
  Flute
59
       

     

     
Swell Organ – 59 notes (GG to f3), enclosed
8
  Double Stopd. Diapason
47
    Cornet, 4 ranks
188
8
  Open Diapason
47
8
  Cremona
47
8
  Stopd. Diapason
47
8
  Hautboy
47
8
  Clarabella
47
8
  Trumpet
47
8
  Dulciano
47
4
  Clarion
47
4
  Principal
47
    Tremulant  
               
Pedals – 25 notes (GGG to G)
32
  Double Open Diapason
25
       
16
  Double Dulciano
25
       
               
Couplers
    Pedals with Gt. Organ   Gt. Organ & Ch. Octaves Below
    Pedals with Choir Organ   Gt. Organ & Ch. Unisons
    Gt. Organ & Sw. Unisons   Signal for bellows
    Sw. Organ & Sw. Octaves Above    
         
Stevens & Gayetty
East Cambridge, Mass. (1836)
Mechanical action
3 manuals, 15 stops, 19 ranks?


The first organ for First Presbyterian Church was built in 1836 by Stevens & Gayetty, a partnership from 1833-1839 of George Stevens (1803-1894) and M. R. Gayetty (d. 1839) in East Cambridge, Mass. Trustee Minutes of 15 September 1836 show that the organ cost $2410.47.

In addition to organbuilding, George Stevens held government offices, and was mayor of Cambridge, Mass. from 1851-1853; he was with the Cambridge Savings Bank for 30 years, where he was president. Stevens retired from the organ business in 1892. Little information is known about M.R. Gayetty, other than he worked with organbuilder William Goodrich of East Cambridge, Mass., and died in May 1839 on a trip to New Orleans.

When the present church building was erected in 1847, a new organ was built by Hall & Labagh of New York City. Hall & Labagh attempted to sell the Stevens & Gayetty organ, placing an ad in several successive issues of the Christian Intelligencer, the weekly newspaper of the Dutch Reformed Church that was published in New York City. The following notice appeared in the September 24, 1846 issue:
ORGANS FOR SALE: —The subscriber offers for sale the following organs, viz.:
The organ now standing in the First Presbyterian Church, Brooklyn. It has two sets of keys and an octave and half of Pedals, in a handsome mahogany case, with gilt front pipes. The stops are as follows: Great Organ—open diapason, dulciano, stopped diapason, principal, twelfth, fifteenth, sesquialtera, flute and trumpet. Swell—open diapason, stopped diapason, principal, cornet, hautboy. Choir-bass—stopped diapason and principal. Pedals—Subbass from GGG to C; largest pipe 16 feet. To Cyrus P. Smith, Esq., Fulton Street, Brooklyn.
The ad also contained descriptions of some smaller organs in the shop and was signed 'Hall & Labagh, Organbuilders. Apparently, the organ had not sold by 1846, but a letter in the files of Thomas Hall would indicate that the Stevens & Gayetty organ was quite possibly sold to the Second Presbyterian Church of Cleveland, Ohio.
               
Great Organ
8
  Open Diapason  
3
  Twelfth  
8
  Dulciano  
2
  Fifteenth  
8
  Stopped Diapason       Sesquialtera [3 ranks?]  
4
  Principal  
8
  Trumpet  
4
  Flute          
               
Swell Organ
8
  Open Diapason       Cornet [3 ranks?]  
8
  Stopped Diapason  
8
  Hautboy  
4
  Principal          
               
Choir Bass
8
  Stopped Diapason          
4
  Principal          
               
Pedals – 18 notes (GGG to C)
16
  Subbass
18
       
           
Sources:
     First Presbyterian Church web site: http://www.fpcbrooklyn.org.
     Fox, David H. A Guide to North American Organbuilders. Rev. ed. Richmond: The Organ Historical Society, 1997.
     Neidl, Phoebe. "First Presbyterian Church in Historical Perspective," Brooklyn Daily Eagle, October 23, 2006.
     Nelson, George. Organs in the United States and Canada Database. Seattle, Wash.
     Ochse, Orpha. Austin Organs. Richmond: The Organ Historical Society, 2001.
     Owen, Barbara. The Organ in New England: An Account of Its Use and Manufacture to the End of the Nineteenth Century. Raleigh: The Sunbury Press, 1979.
     Pinel, Stephen L. "Some Notes on the Early Organs of First Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn," The Keraulophon (Vol. XIX, No. 1 - Issue 127 - January 1988), newsletter of the Greater New York Chapter of the Organ Historical Society; courtesy Sand Lawn and David Scribner.
     Stiles, Henry Reed. History of the City of Brooklyn: Including the Old Town and Village of Brooklyn, the Town of Bushwick, and the Village and City of Williamsburgh. Brooklyn: pub. by subscription, 1863.
     Trupiano, Larry. Specifications of Austin Organ, Op. 117 (1904); transcribed from Austin document (Dec. 12, 1999).
     Trupiano, Larry. Specifications of Harrah-Van Zoeren Organ (1994).
     Turmail, Richard and Dorothy Turmail. First Church Since 1822: A History of the First Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn 1822-2003. Published by First Presbyterian Church, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Illustrations:
     Austin Organ Company brochure. Organ case, Austin Organ, Op. 117 (1903). Courtesy Jonathan Bowen.
     First Presbyterian Church web site. Exterior; Roosevelt Organ, Op. 104 (1882).
     Harrah-Van Zoeren Inc. advertisement, The American Organist (Nov. 1981): drawing of organ case.