Chickering Hall - New York City
 
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Chickering Hall

437 Fifth Avenue at 18th Street
New York, N.Y. 10011







Chickering Hall, considered one of the finest designs by architect George B. Post (1837-1913), was located on the northwest corner of Fifth Avenue and 18th Street in the entertainment district around Union Square. The four-story building was faced with red brick and trimmed in brownstone and gray marble. It was erected by Chickering & Sons to house a music store, warehouse and concert hall. The 1,450-seat Chickering Hall, which opened on Monday evening, November 15th, 1875, occupied the second and third floor space. In addition to musical concerts, Chickering Hall programs included lectures by Oscar Wilde and Thomas H. Huxley, operas, religious conferences, and even the first interstate telephone call—made by Alexander Graham Bell in 1877—to New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Chickering Hall's popularity lasted less than two decades, since many smaller events formerly held in Chickering Hall had been moved to the new Waldorf=Astoria Hotel and popular concert entertainment had found a new home at Carnegie Hall. Moreover, the 25-year lease on the property could not be renewed, so a move would be necessary. Chickering & Sons transferred the agency for city piano sales to the John Wanamaker stores, and by 1893 the building had been completely transformed to retail space. In 1901, the building was sold, to be razed and replaced by a store and loft building.
 
  Chickering Hall - New York City
Hilborne L. Roosevelt
New York City – Opus 25 (1876)
Electric-pneumatic action
3 manuals, 33 stops, 36 ranks



The Roosevelt organ in Chickering Hall was completed in January of 1876 and cost $15,000. Installed on each side of the stage, the organ was operated by electricity, with pneumatic assistance provided for the Great and its couplers. The Echo organ was located in the roof, where, according to an article in Dwight's, "The tones will fall DOWN with a gently weird and dreamy lovliness." Roosevelt's brochure states that, "The Vox Humana is an exact copy of the celebrated one in the Freiburg Organ, drawings and measurements having been taken from the original by the builder."

Roosevelt distinguished between the "church organ" and "concert organ," expounding in The Roosevelt Organ Journal (July 1876): "The solemnity, heaviness, and grandeur which we expect in the foundation stops of a large church organ, are not needed here; instead of them we find a remarkable variety of brilliant and carefully voiced solo stops, a close imitation of orchestral effects, and withal a solid and clear bass. The clearness of all the stops indeed is one of the marked merits of the instrument. The reeds, for which Mr. Roosevelt's organs have always been noted, are of the finished French-school."

The organ was first exhibited to an audience of invited guests on Friday evening, January 21, 1876. Performing were organists George W. Morgan, S. B. Whitely, George and William Warren, S. Austen Pearce, and Dudley Buck.
 
Great Organ (Manual II) – 58 notes
16
  Open Diapason
58
4
  Principal
58
8
  Open Diapason
58
2 2/3
  Twelfth
58
8
  Gamba
58
2
  Fifteenth
58
8
  Doppel Flute
58

  Mixture, 4 ranks
232
4
  Harmonic Flute
58
8
  Trumpet
58

 

 

 

   
Swell Organ (Manual III) – 58 notes, enclosed
16
  Bourdon
58
  Cornet, 3 ranks
174
8
  Violin Diapason
58
8
  Oboe
58
8
  Dolce
58
8
  Cornopean
58
8
  Stopped Diapason
58
    Tremulant  
4
  Violana [sic]
58
       

 

 

 

   
Solo Organ (Manual I) – 58 notes
8
  Keraulophon
58
2
  Piccolo
58
8
  Concert Flute
58
8
  Clarionette
58
4
  Wald Flöte
58

     
 
Echo Organ (playable from the Swell) – 58 notes
8
  Vox Humana
58
8
  Salicional
58
8
  Stopped Diapason
58

  Tremulant  
               
Pedal Organ – 29 notes
16
  Double Open Diapason
29
8
  Violoncello
29
16
  Contrebass
29
16
  Trombone
29
16
  Bourdon
29
       
               
Couplers and Mechanical Accessories
    Swell to Great       Balanced Swell Pedal  
    Swell to Great octaves       Bellows Alarm (electric)  
    Swell to Solo       Great Organ Forte  
    Great to Pedal       Great Organ Piano  
    Swell to Pedal       Swell Organ Forte  
    Solo to Pedal       Swell Organ Piano  
 
Sources:
     Blanchard, Homer D. "The Organ in the United States: A Study in Design", article in The Bicentennial Tracker. Richmond: Organ Historical Society, Inc., 1976.
     "Chickering Hall Sold," The New York Times, Dec. 4, 1901.
     "Chickering Hall to Disappear," Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Dec. 8, 1901.
     "Chickering's New Concert Hall," Dwight's, XXXV:16 (Nov. 27, 1875), p. 131.
     "Chickering's New Move," The New York Times, Oct. 31, 1894.
     The Commemoration of the Founding of the House of Chickering and Sons upon the Eightieth Anniversary of the Event, 1823-1903. Boston: Chickering & Sons, 1904.
     Ochse, Orpha. The History of the Organ in the United States. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1975.
     Ogasapian, John. Organ Building in New York City: 1700-1900. Braintree: The Organ Literature Foundation, 1977.
     "The Organ at Chickering Hall," The New York Times, Jan. 22, 1876.
     "A Perfect Music Hall: Chickering's New Temple of Music Almost Completed—Description of the Structure," The New York Times, Nov. 14, 1875.
     Stern, Robert A.M., Thomas Mellins, and David Fishman. New York 1880: Architecture and Urbanism in the Gilden Age. New York: The Monacelli Press, Inc., 1999.

Photos:
     The Commemoration of the Founding of the House of Chickering and Sons upon the Eightieth Anniversary of the Event, 1823-1903. Exterior.
 
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