St. John's Episcopal Church (Park Slope) - Brooklyn, NY
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St. John Episcopal Church

139 St. John's Place near Seventh Avenue
Brooklyn, N.Y. 11217
http://saintjohnsbrooklyn.org


Organ Specifications:
139 St. John's Place near Seventh Avenue (since 1869)
III/50 Various Builders (1966-1980s)
II/15 Hillgreen, Lane & Company, Op. 1238 (1960); rev. (1970s)
• II/15 George Jardine & Son (1893)
• unknown (c.1868)
Washington and Johnson Streets (1826-1869)
• unknown



1866 view of St. John's Episcopal Chapel at Washington & Johnson Streets - Brooklyn, NY  
Washington & Johnson Streets (1866)  
St. John's Episcopal Church was founded by the Rev. Evan Malbone Johnson in the spring of 1826, to serve the increasing growth of the Village of Brooklyn. The first parishioners were members of St. Ann’s Church, founded in 1784 and the "mother" church of Episcopalians in Brooklyn. On May 9th, 1827, the cornerstone was laid for the first church, a plain, wooden building, fifty by fifty feet, at the corner of Washington and Johnson Streets. Several months later, on the 24th of September 1826, the church was opened for Divine Service. Rev. Johnson planned, erected and paid for the first church, and became its first rector. He operated the church at his own expense until it was purchased by the congregation in 1832.

  1869 view of St. John's Episcopal Chapel and Rectory (Park Slope) - Brooklyn, NY
  Rectory and Chapel (1869)
In the years following the Civil War, the parish hoped to build a larger church elsewhere, and purchased a plot of land on lower DeKalb Avenue. That plot was sold when it was decided to instead purchase a large lot on the corner of what was then Douglass Street and Seventh Avenue in the new Park Slope area of Brooklyn. On June 15th, 1869, the cornerstone was laid for a small chapel that exists today as the transepts of the present church. A beautiful and spacious fourteen-room rectory was also built on the site of this property.

The new St. John’s was not to be a wood and timber construction like the original, but a larger, more pretentious and solid one, built of rock foundations and walls of hand-hewn, reddish-brown sandstone. According to one authority on the Victorian period, "It was in the 1840s that Gothic Revival, with its Romantic preference for natural dark colors and elaborate ornament, reached New York. Gothic found its ideal building material in the local brown sandstone of Connecticut and New Jersey. Soft brownstone could be cut to produce elaborate facades for brick row houses-and in no time weathered to a rich mahogany, which was considered refined. By the 1860s, brownstone had become the favorite building material of New York City." (New York News Magazine, 27 June 1976) White limestone was used for aesthetic contrast for the capstones, a few decorative small columns and door arches.

St. John's Episcopal Church (Park Slope) - Brooklyn, NY  
1906 photo of church  
During the tenure (1874-1887) of the Rev. T. S. Pycott as rector, St. John’s Church assumed its present cruciform shape. John Rochester Thomas designed the nave in 1885, and the chapel was added in 1889, as designed by Edward Tuckerman Potter. These additions more than doubled the seating capacity of the Victorian Gothic church to 635 people. St. John's Church is nearly identical in exterior and interior design to another church by Potter: the Church of the Good Shepherd, on the Colt estate in Hartford, Connecticut.

St. John's Church is within the Park Slope Historic District, designated in 1973 by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.
             
Various Builders
Brooklyn, N.Y. (1966, 1980s)
Electro-pneumatic action
3 manuals, 51 registers, 34 stops, 50 ranks


In 1966, the choir and organ console were moved from the chancel to the south transept. Under the direction of organist Steven Empson, the Hillgreen, Lane organ was greatly enlarged and reconfigured to include a new Swell division (installed above the sacristy). At some point, the organ was connected to the three-manual M.P. Möller console (1925, Op. 4206) acquired from Mother A.M.E. Zion Church in Manhattan. The organ was rebuilt in the 1980s by John Wilson and Guy Henderson, and additional work has been done by Steven Empson, Bruce Shultz, Ron Bishop and Brian McAnuff. Following are the specifications as of April 2012.
               
Great Organ (Manual II) – 61 notes
16
  Bourdon
61
2
  Super Oktav
61
8
  Prinzipal
61
2
  Quarte de Nasard
61
8
  Cor de Nuit
61
1 3/5
  Tierce (fr. 3-1/5)
8
  Flute Harmonique *
61
    Mixture V ranks
305
4
  Oktav
61
    Terz Zimbel III ranks
183
4
  Flute Octaviante (fr. Fl. Harm.)
    Unison Off  
3 1/5
  Tierce
66
    Great 4'  
2 2/3
  Nasard
61
   
* 1-12 from Cor de Nuit
               
Swell Organ (Manual III) – 61 notes, enclosed
16
  Bourdon
97
    Plein Jeu IV ranks
244
8
  Principal (labeled Salicional)
73
16
  Basson (TC, ext. Hautbois)
8
  Flute á Cheminée (fr. Bdn.)
8
  Trumpet
73
8
  Flute Celeste II ranks
110
8
  Hautbois
57
8
  Gemshorn
61
4
  Clarion (fr. Trumpet)
8
  Voix Celeste
58
    Tremulant  
4
  Prestant (fr. 8' Princ.)
    Swell 16'  
4
  Flute á Bec (1-12 from Bdn.)
49
    Unison Off  
2
  Doublette
61
    Swell 4'  
2
  Sifflet (fr. Bdn.)
    Swell Crescendo **  
    Cornet IV ranks (a22-d51)
120
   
** engages Swell stops on the far left shoe
               
Positiv Organ (Manual I) – 61 notes
8
  Gedeckt
61
    Scharf III ranks
183
4
  Prinzipal
61
8
  Cromorne
58
4
  Spitz Gedeckt
61
8
  Bombarde
58
2
  Oktav (1-19 from 4' Prinz.)
34
    Settable +  
2
  Spill Pfeife
derived
    Unison Off  
1 1/3
  Quinte (top octave repeats)
49
   
+ SW 8' Flute á Chem; 4' Flute á Bec;
8' Gemshorn; or 8' Hautbois
    Sesquialtera II ranks (c1-c49)
98
   
               
Pedal Organ – 32 notes
32
  Untersatz (1-12 elec.; ext. 16' Pr.)
32
  Cornet (1-12 derived)
16
  Prinzipal
56
16
  Bombarde
56
16
  Subbass
44
8
  Trompette (fr. 16')
16
  Bourdon
GT
4
  Clairon (fr. 16')
8
  Oktav (fr. 16' Prinz.)
    Settable ++  
8
  Gedackt (fr. 16' Subbass)
   
+ POS 2' Oktav; 1 1/3 Quinte; Scharf IV;
16' Sesq.; 8' Sesq., or 4' Cromorne
4
  Choral Bass (fr. 16' Prinz.)
   
               
Couplers
    Great to Pedal 8', 4'   Positiv to Great 8'
    Swell to Pedal 8', 4'   Great to Positiv 8'
    Positiv to Pedal 8', 4'   Swell to Positiv 8', 4'
    Swell to Great 16', 8', 4'    
               
Adjustable Combinations
   
Swell Organ Pistons 1-2-3-4-5-6 (thumb)
Great Organ Pistons 1-2-3-4-5 (thumb)
Positiv Organ Pistons 1-2-3-4-5 (thumb)
Pedal Organ Pistons 1-2-3-4-5 (thumb & toe)
Full Organ Pistons 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 (thumb)
  General Cancel
               
Reversibles
    Swell to Pedal (thumb & toe)   Sforzando (thumb & toe)
    Great to Pedal (thumb & toe)   Positiv 8' Bombarde on Pedal
    Positiv to Pedal (thumb & toe)  
(when Ped. 16' Bomb. & 8' Tpt. are drawn)
               
Expression
    Swell Crescendo Pedal (left)    
    Balanced Swell Pedal    
    General Crescendo Pedal    
         
Accessories
    Wind Indicator Light    
    Crescendo Indicator Light    
    Sforzando Indicator Light    
               
Hillgreen, Lane & Company
Alliance, Ohio – Opus 1238 (1960)
Electro-pneumatic action
2 manuals, 32 registers, 13 stops, 15 ranks


In 1960, an anonymous donor provided a gift of $20,000 toward replacing the old Jardine tracker organ, built and installed in 1893. A contract was made with organ builders Hillgreen, Lane & Co. of Ohio for a two-manual, fourteen-rank pipe organ. The new organ would have two sections exposed in the sanctuary arches, a solid oak console with drawknobs, and a set of tubular chimes. Mr. Keith Verhey, the organist, agreed to play the dedication recital in true classic style, as he had been taught at the Juilliard School, if money could be found and a new organ procured. He was staging and directing two nightclub shows in Manhattan and had temporarily moved away from classic organ repertory. The installation of the instrument covered a span of nine months, far longer than expected, but it was finally dedicated by Archdeacon Saunders at a Sunday afternoon recital on April 1, 1962.
               
Great Organ (Manual I) – 61 notes
8
  Spitz Principal
68
2 2/3
  Quint
61
8
  Spire Flute
68
2
  Super Octave (fr.. Octave)
8
  Spire Flute Celeste (TC)
56
8
  Cromorne
68
4
  Octave
80
       
               
Swell Organ (Manual II) – 61 notes, enclosed
16
  Bourdon
97
2 2/3
  Nazard (fr. 16' Bdn.)
8
  Viol
68
2
  Flautina (fr. 16' Bdn.)
8
  Viole Celeste
63
    Mixture III ranks
183
8
  Quintadena
68
16
  Trombone
85
8
  Gedeckt (fr. 16' Bdn.)
8
  Trumpet (fr. 16' Trombone)
4
  Flute (fr. 16' Bdn.)
4
  Clarion (fr. 16' Trombone)
               
Pedal Organ – 32 notes
32
  Resultant
4
  Flute
SW
16
  Diapason
56
4
  Super Octave (fr. 16' Diap.)
16
  Quintaton (ext. SW)
12
2
  Piccolo
SW
16
  Bourdon
SW
16
  Trombone
SW
8
  Octave (fr. 16' Diap.)
8
  Trumpet
SW
8
  Bourdon
SW
4
  Clarion
SW
5 1/3
  Quint
SW
       
               
George Jardine & Son
New York City (1893)
Mechanical action
2 manuals, 15 stops


Specifications for this organ have not yet been located.
               
Sources:
     The Diapason (Sept. 1962). Stoplist of Hillgreen, Lane & Co. organ, Op. 1238 (1960). Courtesy Jonathan Bowen.
     Dolkart, Andrew S. and Matthew A. Postal. Guide to New York City Landmarks (Third Edition). New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2004.
     Kloda, Barry. Specifications (Apr. 10, 2012) of organ.
     Nelson, George. Organs in the United States and Canada Database. Seattle, Wash.
     New York Architecture Images web site: http://www.nyc-architecture.com
     Younger, William Lee. Old Brooklyn in Early Photographs 1865-1929. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1978.

Illustrations:
     Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Collection. Exterior (1906).
     Hunter, William F. St. John's Church, Washington and Johnson Streets (1866).
     New York Architecture Images. Color exterior.