Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Cathedral - Brooklyn, New York
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Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral
(Maronite Catholic)

113 Remsen Street at Henry Street
Brooklyn, N.Y. 11201
www.ololc.org

Organ Specifications:
113 Remsen Street at Henry Street (since 1944)
III/23 Austin Organ Company, Op. 259 (1909)
295 Hicks Street (1903-1944)
• unknown
81 Washington Street, Manhattan (1900-1903)
• unknown


Our Lady of Lebanon Church on Hicks Street (c.1913) - Brooklyn, NY  
Hicks Street Church  
The Maronite community in New York dates back to 1890 and began in a rented hall at 127 Washington Street in Lower Manhattan, known as Saint Joseph’s Maronite Church. Upon arriving in New York in 1900, Father Khairallah Stephen, chorbishop and procurator patriarchal, founded Saint Joseph’s parish and relocated to 81 Washington Street. In 1902, Father Stephen used $2000 of his own money and $600 in donations to purchase a large brownstone at 295–297 Hicks Street in Brooklyn. In March 1903, the congregation moved to Brooklyn, and the first mass was celebrated there on July 31, 1903, with 125 persons in attendance.

Plans were drawn for a permanent church building on Hicks Street, midblock between Joralemon and State Streets. On August 25, 1907, the cornerstone was laid by Bishop McDonnell in ceremonies that included a large number of clergy of the Latin and Oriental Rites. The brick building was designed in the Moorish style, contained five altars and could accomodate 300 persons. The church was dedicated by Auxiliary Bishop Mundelein on December 11, 1910.

Due to the growth of the Brooklyn Maronite community, the search for a new church began in 1938. On December 8, 1943, Father Mansour Stephen (nephew of Father Khairallah Stephen) signed a contract to purchase the former Church of the Pilgrims (Congregational) at the corner of Henry and Remsen Streets for $70,000. Designed in the Romanesque Revival style by Richard Upjohn and erected in 1844, the building had been vacant since 1934 when the Church of the Pilgrims merged into the Plymouth Congregational Church, located nearby on Hicks Street, to form the Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims.

The Maronites officially took possession of the property on February 9, 1944, the Feast of Saint Maron. On Sunday, November 26, 1944, the first Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Father Mansour Stephen and the new church was dedicated. The brownstone residence adjoining the church at 113 Remsen Street was purchased on December 30, 1944, through the generosity of a parishioner, Mr. George Jebaily.

 
  Bronze doors at the Henry Street entrance
  Narthex doors from Charles Schwab's mansion in Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Cathedral - Brooklyn, N.Y. (photo: Steven E. Lawson)
  Narthex doors from Charles Schwab's mansion
As part of the work undertaken to renovate the church, Father Stephen purchased a pair of bronze doors with ten great medallions from the SS Normandie, a famed French luxury liner that had burned and capsized at Pier 88 in Manhattan while being converted to a US troopship in 1942. Nine of the medallions show Norman cities, and one shows a sister ship, the Ile de France. The medallions had to be rearranged because the doors did not fit the church openings. Six of the medallions are located at the main entrance on Henry Street, while the remaining four medallions are located on the smaller Remsen Street doors.

In addition to the doors, the windows were replaced because the original stained glass windows had been moved to Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims. Upon learning of a new colored glass window method developed by Swiss artist Jean Crotti (1878-1958), Father Mansour determined that the church would be the first in the world to have all windows made in the Gemmaux method. Gemmaux is a word coined from gemmes (jewels) and émaux (enamels), and consist of bits of colored glass held together by colorless enamel. Crotti created ten ten pictorial windows for the church in his French workshop during 1953.

Other notable furnishings include the mahogany doors and marble pilasters in the narthex (from Charles Schwab's New York City mansion), the marble and onyx pavement in the sanctuary (from the 1939/40 New York World's Fair French and Lebanese Pavilions), the solid bronze Baptistery gates (17th century, Northern Italy / Southern Germany), and a bas relief of Our Lady in Chains (c.1526) in Saint Rafqa Chapel, located to the right of the sanctuary. Above and behind the altar is a mural completed in 1952 by Lebanese artist Saliba Douaihy that depicts Our Lady of Harissa standing at the top of the Lebanese mountains looking down on the coast and sea.

Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Cathedral - Brooklyn, N.Y. (photo: Steven E. Lawson)  
On June 27, 1977, Pope Paul VI designated Our Lady of Lebanon Church as the Cathedral of the Diocese of Saint Maron – U.S.A., when the Eparchial See was transferred from Detroit, Michigan to Brooklyn, New York. In 1994, the new Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles was created by the Holy See, and the remainder of the original Diocese of Saint–Maron – U.S.A. became the Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn.

               
  Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Cathedral - Brooklyn, N.Y. (photo: Steven E. Lawson)
   
  Austin Organ, Op. 259 (1909) in Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Cathedral - Brooklyn, N.Y. (photo: Steven E. Lawson)
   
 
Console of Austin Organ, Op. 259 (1909) in Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Cathedral - Brooklyn, N.Y. (photo: Steven E. Lawson)
Austin Organ Company
Hartford, Conn. – Opus 259 (1909)
Electro-pneumatic action
3 manuals, 25 stops, 23 ranks, 1,525 pipes



Notes from Very Rev. Francis J. Marini, Chancellor of the eparchy of which this church is now the cathedral:

"I resided in Cathedral Rectory for seven years, and was Archivist of the diocese. This [E. & G.G. Hook] instrument was extensively rebuilt and electrified by Austin in 1909 as their Opus # 259, (III Manuals, 23 ranks and 1,525 pipes). Most of the pipework is from the Hook # 519, but with the pressure raised to 5" and a new pipe added at the bottom of most ranks to rescale and repitch the pipes to A435. The 23 Hook ranks which were discarded were all the mixtures and ranks above 4', and a few new ranks, including the signature Austin Cornopean 8' in the Swell, were added.

"In 1944, when the Church was purchased by the Maronite Catholics of Brooklyn, the original 1909 Austin detached electric console, located in the front gallery near the organ, was discarded and replaced with a Tellers standard AGO console relocated to the rear gallery of the Church, where it was slow in controlling the organ from which it was now distant 80' to 100'. Still, the instrument was playing until about 1987 (still using the original 1909 Kinetic blower), when a misguided attempt to relocate the console nearer the organ resulted in a severing of the main cable, and this has never been repaired. However, the 1909 Austin remains intact and is contained entirely within the 1870 Hook Case, complete with stenciled metal and stenciled wooden façade pipes on two façades, all of which are speaking. In fact, the reason the 1909 Austin is only half the size of the 1870 Hook is that the 1909 Austin contract contained a clause insisted upon by the Church of the Pilgrims that the new instrument must fit within the 1870 Hook case. Of course, the size of the Austin Universal Chests required reduction of the pipework."
               
Great Organ (Manual II) – 61 notes (5" pressure)
16
  Open Diapason (wood)
61
8
  Gamba
61
8
  Open Diapason
61
4
  Octave
61
8
  Gross Flute (wood)
61
    Chimes  
               
Swell Organ (Manual III) – 61 notes, enclosed (5" pressure)
16
  Lieblich Gedeckt
73
4
  Flauto Traverso (wood)
73
8
  Open Diapason
73
2
  Flautino
61
8
  Doppel Flute (wood)
73
8
  Cornopean
73
8
  Viole d'Orchestre (tin)
73
8
  Oboe
73
8
  Viole d'Amour
73
8
  Vox Humana
73
8
  Vox Celeste [TC]
61
    Tremolo  
               
Choir Organ (Manual I) – 61 notes, enclosed (5" pressure)
8
  Melodia (wood)
73
4
  Flute d'Amour (wood & metal)
73
8
  Dulciana
73
8
  Clarinet
73
8
  Quintadena
73
    Tremolo  
               
Pedal Organ – 32 notes (5" pressure)
16
  Open Diapason (wood)
32
16
  Lieblich Gedeckt
SW
16
  Bourdon (wood)
32
8
  Gross Flute [ext. Bourdon]
12
               
Couplers
    Great to Pedal 8', 4'   Choir to Great 16', 8', 4'
    Swell to Pedal 8', 4'   Swell to Choir 16', 8', 4'
    Choir to Pedal 8'   Swell to Swell 16', 4'
    Swell to Great 16', 8', 4'   Choir to Choir 16', 4'
               
Adjustable Combinations
    Pistons No. 1-2-3-4 affecting Swell Organ
    Pistons No. 1-2-3-4 affecting Great Organ
    Pistons No. 1-2-3-4 affecting Choir Organ
    Pistons No. 1-2-3-4 affecting Pedal Organ
    Pistons No. 1-2-3-4 Generals, affecting Full Organ
               
Pedal Movements
    Balanced Choir Pedal    
    Balanced Swell Pedal    
    Crescendo Pedal    
    Sforzando Pedal          
               
Sources:
     "Art: A New Art," Time (Mar. 25, 1957).
     The Catholic Church in the United States of America: Undertaken to Celebrate the Golden Jubilee of His Holiness, Pope Pius X, Vol. III. New York: The Catholic Editing Company, 1914.
     Marini, Very Rev. Francis J. Notes on the organ.
     Nelson, George. Organs in the United States and Canada Database. Seattle, Wash.
     Ochse, Orpha. Austin Organs. Richmond: The Organ Historical Society, 2001.
     Organ Historical Society Database: http://organsociety.bsc.edu/
     Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Cathedral web site: www.ololc.org
     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.
     Van Pelt, William T., comp. The Hook Opus List, 1829-1916 in Facsimile. Richmond: The Organ Historical Society, 1991.

Illustrations:
     The Catholic Church in the United States of America. Our Lady of Lebanon Church on Hicks Street (c.1913).
     Lawson, Steven E. Henry Street doors; interior; Austin Organ, Op. 259 (1909).
     Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Cathedral. Exterior; windows.