St. Nicholas of Tolentine Catholic Church - Bronx, N.Y. (photo: Don Gilligan)
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St. Nicholas of Tolentine
(Roman Catholic)

2345 University Avenue at Fordham Road
Bronx, N.Y. 10468
http://www.tolentinebronx.org/


Organ Specifications:
Present building (since 1928)
III/38 Kilgen Organ Company, Op. 7517 (1951); rev. (2012)
III/38 Kilgen Organ Company, Op. 7517 (1951)
II/I0 George Jardine & Son (1877) – Lower Church
First building (1907-1928)
• unknown


The Parish of St. Nicholas of Tolentine was founded by the Augustinians on April 22, 1906. Records show that 127 people attended the first Mass which was said in a little garage building on North Street near Jerome Avenue. Property on the southeast corner of Andrews Avenue and Fordham Road was purchased, and construction began soon thereafter on a two-story combination building for the church and school, and a rectory. The cornerstone was laid on July 15, 1906, by Monsignor J. F. Mooney, V.G., and on September 15, 1907, the church was dedicated by Archbishop Farley, with a Pontifical Mass sung by the Rt. Rev. W. A. Jones, O.S.A., of Puerto Rico. In the early years, the Augustinian Fathers attended to the Catholic Orphan Asylums (for both males and females) on Sedgwick Avenue and Kingsbridge Road. The school was administered by the Sisters of Charity.

By the 1920s, the University Heights area (named for the presence at that time of New York University) had developed into an attractive, middle-class neighborhood of mainly Irish residents who had left the poorer sections of the South Bronx and Manhattan. A parochial high school was established in 1927, and plans were made for a larger church that would be built on adjacent property to the east, on the southwest corner of University Avenue and Fordham Road.

St. Nicholas of Tolentine Catholic Church - Bronx, N.Y. (photo: Daniel Kirk-Foster)  
   
Interior of St. Nicholas of Tolentine Catholic Church - The Bronx, N.Y. (photo: David Oniffrey)  
Construction on the present church began in the summer of 1927, and on September 11 of that same year the cornerstone was laid by the Rt. Rev. John J. Dunn, Auxiliary Bishop of New York. As designed by Delaney, O'Connor & Schultz, the new Gothic-style edifice would be built of rock-faced ashlar trimmed in limestone, and would cost about $1,000,000 when completed. The church was oriented with its liturgical West end actually facing east, fronting University Avenue, and the main portals were to be flanked by twin towers 150 feet in height.

The lower church would provide seating for 1,200 and the upper church, with a nave measuring 200 feet long and 64 feet wide, would have a seating capacity of 1,500. On April 29, 1928, the completed lower church was blessed by Cardinal Hayes. This basement space served as the main church for many years, due to financial restraints brought on in part by the Great Depression and World War II. The upper church was completed in the 1950s and the church was consecrated in 1957.

On March 5, 2010, a fire of suspicious origin broke out in a former confessional-turned-storage room near the main entrance, causing great damage to the narthex and filling the church with smoke. The flames shot up to the choir gallery directly above the narthex, and the organ console and pipes suffered smoke and water damage.

Over the years, the demographics of the University Heights area have changed from being predominantly Irish and is now home to mainly Hispanic and Vietnamese immigrants. St. Nicholas of Tolentine, popularly known as "The Cathedral of the Bronx," has also evolved to meet the needs of its parishioners and offers services in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.
             
  Rebuilt Console of Kilgen Organ, Op. 7517 (1951) in St. Nicholas of Tolentine Catholic Church - The Bronx, N.Y. (photo: Daniel Kirk-Foster)
   
  Rebuilt Console of Kilgen Organ, Op. 7517 (1951) in St. Nicholas of Tolentine Catholic Church - The Bronx, N.Y. (photo: Daniel Kirk-Foster)
Kilgen Organ Company
St. Louis, Mo. – Opus 7517 (1951); rev. Klauder (2012)
Electro-pneumatic action
3 manuals, 56 stops, 38 ranks







The two-alarm fire on March 5, 2012, narrowly spared the 1951 Kilgen organ, but the resulting damage by smoke, water and workers necessitated that the organ be cleaned and repaired. This work was contracted to John Klauder, organ curator, who emptied and cleaned both chambers, replaced soot-covered leather, and repaired or replaced damaged pipes. The 1951 console barely escaped the flames from below but was also damaged. Klauder cleaned and refinished the console, upgraded the combination action, and enlarged the specification in consultation with Daniel Kirk-Foster, Director of Music. Following are the specifications of the rebuilt console.
               
Great Organ (Manual II) – 61 notes, enclosed with Choir (7" pressure)
16
Violone
73
Fourniture III ranks
183
8
Diapason
73
16
Trumpet [TC, from 8']
8
Hohl Flute
73
8
Trumpet (12" w.p.)
73
8
Violone [from 16']
4
Trumpet [from 8']
8
Gemshorn
73
Chimes
25 tubes
4
Octave
73
MIDI
4
Flute Harmonique
73
Great 16'
2 2/3
*
Nazard
SW
Great Unison Off
1 3/5
*
Tierce
SW
Great 4'
Rausch Quinte II ranks
122
 

     

     
Swell Organ (Manual III) – 61 notes, enclosed
16
Flute Conique
73
Scharf IV ranks
244
8
Geigen Diapason
73
16
Waldhorn
73
8
Rohr Floete
73
8
Waldhorn [from 16']
8
Flute Conique [from 16']
8
Trompette
73
8
Viole d'Gamba
73
8
Oboe
73
8
Voix Celeste
73
4
Clarion
73
4
Principal
73
Tremolo
4
Flute Harmonique
73
MIDI
2 2/3
*
Nazard
Swell 16'
2
Octavin
61
Swell Unison Off
1 3/5
*
Tierce
Swell 4'

     

     
Choir Organ (Manual I) – 61 notes, enclosed (6" pressure)
8
Viola Pomposa
73
8
Clarinet
73
8
Concert Flute
73
Tremolo
8
Cor de Nuit
73
MIDI
8
Unda maris [TC]
61
Choir 16'
4
Spitz Flute
73
Choir Unison Off
2 2/3
*
Nazard
SW
Choir 4'
1 3/5
*
Tierce
SW
 

     

 
* derived from SW Scharf IV
Pedal Organ – 32 notes (7½" pressure)
32
Resultant [from 16' Bdn.]
8
Rohr Floete
SW
16
Contrabasse
32
4
Super Octave [from 8' Oct.]
16
Bourdon [unit]
44
32
Grand Cornet IV ranks +
GT
16
Violone
GT
16
Bombarde
32
16
Flute Conique
SW
16
Waldhorn
SW
10 2/3
Flute Conique
10 2/3
Waldhorn
SW
8
Octave [unit]
44
8
Waldhorn
SW
8
Bass Flute [from 16' Bdn.]
8
Trumpet
GT
8
Cello [from Violone]
GT
4
Trumpet
GT
8
Flute Conique
SW
MIDI
           
+ derived from GT 16' Violone
Couplers
    Great to Pedal 8', 4'   Pedal to Great 8'
    Swell to Pedal 8', 4'   Swell to Choir 16', 8', 4'
    Choir to Pedal 8', 4'   All Swells to Swell
    Swell to Great 16', 8', 4'   Pedal Divide
    Choir to Great 16', 8', 4'   Great / Choir Transfer
               
Adjustable Combinations (Peterson ICS-4000, 100 memory levels)
   
Swell Organ Pistons 1-2-3-4-5-6 (thumb)
Great Organ Pistons 1-2-3-4-5-6 (thumb)
Choir Organ Pistons 1-2-3-4-5-6 (thumb)
Pedal Organ Pistons 1-2-3-4-5-6 (thumb & toe)
Generals Pistons 1-2-3-4-5-6 (thumb & toe)
Generals Pistons 7-8-9-10-11-12-13-14-15-16-17-18-19-20 (thumb)
               
Accessories
    Balanced Expression Pedal – Great & Choir   9 "Next" pistons (thumb)
    Balanced Expression Pedal – Swell   2 "Next" pistons (toe)
    Crescendo Pedal   1 "Previous" piston (thumb)
    Full Organ (thumb & toe)   1 "Previous" piston (toe)
               
  Console of Kilgen Organ, Op. 7517 (1951) in St. Nicholas of Tolentine Catholic Church - The Bronx, N.Y. (photo: David Oniffrey)
   
  Case for Kilgen Organ, Op. 7517 (1951) in St. Nicholas of Tolentine Catholic Church - The Bronx, N.Y. (photo: David Oniffrey)
Kilgen Organ Company
St. Louis, Mo. – Opus 7517 (1951)
Electro-pneumatic action
3 manuals, 40 stops, 38 ranks





The organ in the Upper Church was built in 1951 by the Kilgen Organ Company, successor firm to Geo. Kilgen & Son, of St. Louis. Charles Courboin, who was organist at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan from 1943-1973, designed the specifications. The fully enclosed organ is installed behind oak grills in chambers on opposite sides of the rear gallery. Kilgen provided a three-manual stop-key console that was centered at the front edge of the gallery.
               
Great Organ (Manual II) – 61 notes, enclosed with Choir (7" pressure)
16
  Violone
73
4
  Flute Harmonique
73
8
  Diapason
73
    Rausch Quinte II ranks
122
8
  Hohl Flute
73
    Fourniture III ranks
183
8
  Gemshorn
73
8
  Trumpet (12" w.p.)
73
4
  Octave
73
   
Chimes
25 tubes

     

     
Swell Organ (Manual III) – 61 notes, enclosed (7½" pressure)
16
  Flute Conique
73
2
  Octavin
61
8
  Geigen Diapason
73
    Scharf IV ranks
244
8
  Rohr Floete
73
16
  Waldhorn
73
8
  Viole d'Gamba
73
8
  Trompette
73
8
  Voix Celeste
73
8
  Oboe
73
4
  Principal
73
4
  Clarion
73
4
  Flute Harmonique
73
    Tremolo  

     

     
Choir Organ (Manual I) – 61 notes, enclosed (6' pressure)
8
  Viola Pomposa
73
4
  Spitz Flute
73
8
  Concert Flute
73
8
  Clarinet
73
8
  Cor d'nuit
73
    Tremolo  
8
  Unda maris [TC]
61
       

     

     
Pedal Organ – 32 notes
32
  Sub Bourdon [1-12 resultant]
8
  Bass Flute [from 16' Bdn.]
16
  Contra Bass
32
8
  Cello [Violone]
GT
16
  Bourdon [unit]
44
8
  Rohr Floete
SW
16
  Violone
GT
4
  Super Octave [from 8' Oct.]
16
  Flute Conique
SW
16
  Bombarde
32
8
  Octave [unit]
44
16
  Waldhorn
SW
               
Couplers
    Great to Pedal 8'   Swell to Choir 16', 8', 4'
    Swell to Pedal 8', 4'   Great to Great 4'
    Choir to Pedal 8'   Swell to Swell 16', 4'
    Swell to Great 16', 8', 4'   Choir to Choir 16', 4'
    Choir to Great 16', 8', 4'    
               
Adjustable Combinations
   
Swell Organ Pistons 1-2-3-4-5-6 (thumb)
Great Organ Pistons 1-2-3-4-5-6 (thumb)
Choir Organ Pistons 1-2-3-4-5-6 (thumb)
Pedal Organ Pistons 1-2-3-4-5-6 (thumb & toe)
Full Organ Pistons 1-2-3-4-5-6 (thumb & toe)
               
Accessories
    Balanced Expression Pedal – Great & Choir   Great to Pedal Reversible (toe)
    Balanced Expression Pedal – Swell   Full Organ (thumb & toe)
    Crescendo Pedal    
               
Interior of St. Nicholas of Tolentine Catholic Church - The Bronx, N.Y. (photo: David Oniffrey)
 
Console of Kilgen Organ, Op. 7517 (1951) in St. Nicholas of Tolentine Catholic Church - The Bronx, N.Y. (photo: David Oniffrey)
               
  Geo. Jardine & Son Organ (1878) formerly in St. Nicholas of Tolentine Church - The Bronx, NY
Organ installed in the Lower Church:

George Jardine & Son
New York City (1878)
Mechanical action
2 manuals, 10 stops, 10 ranks




In 1927, a two-manual-and-pedal organ was installed in the Lower Church. Originally built in 1878 by George Jardine & Son for St. James Episcopal Church in Goshen, N.Y., the organ was moved and rebuilt for use in the Lower Church by William F. Smith. The following specifications were recorded (Jan. 12, 1940) by Louis F. Mohr & Co., an organ service concern in the area. Mohr noted that the organ had 17 front pipes in gold.

This organ was rebuilt again in 1978 by William E. Baker. In 1988, the organ was sold through the Organ Clearing House and moved to Trinity Episcopal Church, Shelburne, Vt. In 2008 and 2009, the organ was up for auction on eBay.com.
               
Great Organ (Manual I) – 58 notes
8
  Open Diapason
58
8
  Melodia
58
8
  Gamba
58
2
  Flageolet
58
               
Swell Organ (Manual II) – 58 notes, enclosed
8
  Diapason Bass
17
4
  Clarionet Flute
58
8
  Clarionet Flute [TF]
41
4
  Violana
58
8
  Dulciana [TF]
41
    Tremulant  
               
Pedal Organ– 27 notes
16
  Bourdon
27
       
               
Couplers and Accessories
    Swell to Great [push buttons below Swell]   Balanced Swell Pedal
    Great to Pedal    
    Swell to Pedal   Bellows Signal
               
 
     
 
               
Sources:
     "A Success Story in Multiculturalism," Strangers and Aliens No Longer: The Hispanic Presence. Washington, DC, The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, 2004. http://www.jknirp.com/aliens.htm
     "Bishop Lays Stone for Bronx Church," The New York Times (Sep. 12, 1927).
     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.
     Hermalyn, Gary and Robert Kornfeld. Landmarks of The Bronx. Bronx, NY: Bronx Historical Society, 1989.
     Kirk-Foster, Daniel. Specifications of Kilgen Organ as rebuilt by John Klauder (2012).
     Mohr, Louis F. & Co. Specifications (Jan. 12, 1940) of J.H. & C. S. Odell organ (1878). Courtesy Larry Trupiano.
     "New Church Blessed by Cardinal Hayes," The New York Times (Apr. 30, 1928).
     Nieves, Evelyn. "Archdiocese Will Close a Bronx High School," The New York Times (May 17, 1991).
     Paul Opel's Organ Home Page web site: http://www.sover.net/~popel/agomain.html. Specifications of George Jardine & Son Organ (1878).
     Shelley, Thomas J. The Bicentennial History of the Archdiocese of New York 1808-2008. Strasbourg: Éditions du Signe, 2007.
     St. Nicholas of Tolentine Church web site: http://www.tolentinebronx.org/

Illustrations:
     eBay.com. Photos of George Jardine & Son Organ (1878) in Trinity Episcopal Church, Shelburne, Vt.
     Gilligan, Don. Church exterior from front.
     Kirk-Foster, Daniel. Church exterior from side; Rebuilt Kilgen Console (2012).
     Oniffrey, David. Church interior; console and case of Kilgen Organ Company organ, Op. 7517 (1951).