Methodist Episcopal Hospital - Brooklyn, N.Y. (1911)
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Methodist Episcopal Hospital

263 Seventh Avenue at 6th Street
Brooklyn, N.Y. 11215

On January 27, 1881, the Methodist Episcopal newspaper, The Christian Advocate, printed a piece by its influential editor, James Monroe Buckley. Buckley had been a church pastor in Connecticut just before his election as editor. The editorial related the unhappy story of the organist at Buckley's former charge. The organist, visiting New York City, was struck by a panicked team of horses and died because there was no adequate hospital care available.

This tragedy spurred Buckley to call for the establishment of a hospital, the first in Methodism. As Buckley wrote, "it is about time the Methodist Episcopal church erected a hospital somewhere in this world."

George I. Seney, son of a Methodist minister, read Buckley's editorial challenge and responded. Seney purchased a large plot of land, encompassing 16 lots on Seventh Avenue to Eighth Avenue, from 6th to 7th Streets, in what was then called Prospect Heights, now Park Slope. In August 1881, he presented the land to the City of Brooklyn and $100,000 to start building the hospital. It would be incorporated as "The Methodist Episcopal Hospital of the City of Brooklyn," to be known as the Seney Hospital, in memory of George Seney’s father. Mr. Seney announced that this new hospital would open to Jew and gentile, Protestant and Catholic, heathen and infidel. There would be no discrimination between races or ethnic groups, and anyone who needed care would be served.

Seney and his committee announced that a contest would be held to choose an architect. There were three finalists, and they chose the designs of J. Mumford, Jr., a local architect about whom very little information seems to exist. He would design nine separate buildings for the hospital complex, and construction was to begin on the first three immediately. On September 20, 1882, the cornerstone was laid with great pomp and ceremony, with Mayor Seth Low leading a group of church and civic dignitaries. Much was made of the munificence of George Seney, the generosity of his gift, and what a fine man he was, and what a fine hospital this would be, located on the edge of Prospect Park.

The idea did meet with some criticism from those who believed that the denomination should focus on building churches and preaching the Gospel. However, the late nineteenth century was an era when churches were increasingly involved in social outreach, and support for the hospital came from many quarters.

That support was especially welcome when George Seney suffered financial reversals and other backers were needed. The partially completed buildings were boarded up for several years while the money was raised. Construction began again in the spring of 1887. The first buildings were dedicated on December 15, and the first patient was admitted four days later.

The hospital’s official name was changed to the "Methodist Hospital of Brooklyn" in 1969, after the Methodist Episcopal Church joined with two other branches of Methodism to form the United Methodist Church (UMC). Thereafter, the hospital became independent of the church, although it has retained a traditional relationship with the UMC and is recognized as a National Shrine by the UMC.  In 1993, the Hospital joined the New York Hospital Care Network, which later became the NewYork-Presbyterian Healthcare System.  At that time, the Hospital, which became an affiliate of the Weil Cornell Medical College, officially changed its name to New York Methodist Hospital.

  Estey organ, Op. 604 (1908) in the Chapel of Methodist Episcopal Hospital - Brooklyn, N.Y.
Estey Organ Company
Brattleboro, Vt. – Opus 604 (1908)
Electro-pneumatic action
2 manuals, 9 stops, 9 ranks

The Chapel contained an organ built in 1908 by the Estey Organ Company. As seen in the c.1910 postcard at right, the organ was installed in a chamber behind the podium and had an attached console. The specifications of this organ were recorded (Oct. 28, 1931) by Louis F. Mohr & Co., an organ service concern in the area. Mohr noted that the organ had an oak case with 30 front pipes in gold, and that it was a memorial to the Hutchings Family. Mohr did not indicate manual and pedal compasses, but they are suggested here, based on similar Estey organs.
Great Organ (Manual I) – 61 notes
  Open Diapason


Swell Organ (Manual II) – 61 notes, enclosed
  Stopped Diapason
  Oboe [TC?]
  Flute Harmonic

Pedal Organ – 30 notes
Couplers ("4 Couplers")
    [Swell to Pedal]     [Swell to Great]
    [Great to Pedal]     [Swell to Great Octaves]
    Balance Swell Pedal      
     The Estey Pipe Organ web site:
     General Commission on Archives & History, The United Methodist Church.
     Mohr, Louis F. & Co. Specifications of Estey Organ, Op. 604 (1908). Courtesy Larry Trupiano
     Nelson, George. Organs in the United States and Canada Database. Seattle, Wash.

Illustrations: Postcard (c.1910) of Chapel of Methodist Episcopal Hospital showing Estey organ, Op. 604 (1908).
     Public Domain. Postcard (1911) of hospital exterior.