Church of the Intercession - New York City (Photo: John Rust)
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Church of the Intercession
(Episcopal)

550 West 155th Street at Broadway
New York, N.Y. 10032
http://www.intercessionnyc.org/

Organ Specifications:
550 West 155th Street at Broadway (since 1912)
III/67 Schlicker Organ Co. (1964)
IV/55 Austin Organ Co., Op. 441 (1912)
158th Street and Broadway (1872-1914)
• Unknown builder (1899)
• J.H. & C.S. Odell (1800s) – burned 1899
154th Street and Tenth Avenue (1847-1872)
• Unknown builder
 
In 1846 in the tiny hamlet known as Carmansville, northwest of the village of Harlem, John James Audubon and John R. Morewood felt the need to have the services of the Episcopal Church in their own community. The first services were held in the parlor of the Morewoods' residence, located at what today is the southeast corner of 155th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue. Over time, Carmansville became known as Hamilton Heights and the area gradually changed from a sleepy rural spot to a part of the great City. The first rector elected was the Rev. Abercrombie.

Church of the Intercession (1847-1872) - New York City

 
First church building (1847-1872)
 
The first Church of the Intercession was a wooden Victorian Gothic structure at the corner of 154th Street and Old Tenth (now Amsterdam) Avenue. The outline of its roof can be seen on the side wall of the still-standing building which once adjoined it. Completed in 1847, the first church building was used until 1872. In 1871, the Rev. W. M. Postlethwait became Rector; he would later become the chaplain at West Point. During his three-year tenure, the Vestry decided to sell the original site and relocate the parish.

  Church of the Intercession - New York City (Nickerson's Illustrated Church, c.1895)
 
158th Street & Broadway (c.1895)
In 1872, the second Intercession church was built in stone at the corner of 158th Street and Grand Boulevard, now Broadway. With the new building, however, came unexpected problems: the church was built on the expectation that Washington Heights would attract a large population. The cost of construction was far greater than expected. Further, a dispute over the church's new location resulted in dissention among the congregation and the withdrawal of much of the expected financial support. The situation worsened to such an extent that the parish became insolvent, and the sheriff took possession of the church building. For a while, the congregation was only allowed the use of the building by legal sufferance. Yet, aided by the leadership and preaching skills of the Rev. Dr. E. Winchester Donald, the next Rector, the congregation grew and the parish recovered financially enough to reclaim possession of its building.

In 1906, with Intercession still in debt and now overcrowded as well, the Rev. Dr. Milo Hudson Gates, the thirteenth Rector, realized the precarious situation of his parish and, knowing of Trinity Church's earlier plans to eventually build a chapel on the cemetery property, began negotiations with Trinity Church. The solution they found was to have Intercession become one of Trinity's chapels, and to build a new church on the cemetery land. Intercession was disestablished as an independent parish and absorbed into the Trinity Church Corporation, after which it was known as the Chapel of the Intercession.

Church of the Intercession - New York City (Wurts Bros., c.1915)

 
View from 155th Street (c.1915)
 
Church of the Intercession - New York City (c.1931)  
View from Broadway & 155th St. (1931)  
Bertram G. Goodhue Tomb - Church of the Intercession - New York City (S.H. Gottscho, 1929)  
Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue Tomb  
The first Vicar of the new Chapel was, of course, Dr. Gates himself, and in short order ambitious plans were made to build a new church. The noted ecclesiastical architect, Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue (1869-1924), of Cram, Goodhue & Ferguson, was retained and given instructions to create what was to become his masterpiece. The working team of priest and architect was nothing less than a marriage made in heaven. Goodhue was a master of the Gothic Revival style, and to his work he brought an impeccable sense of taste, a genuine feeling for historical accuracy, and a great inventiveness in adapting an ancient style to contemporary needs. Dr. Gates was a man of vision and sense of worship far in advance of his time – and his congregation. At a time when the Church and our parish were far more “protestant” than “Episcopal”, he managed to achieve a church building that was truly Catholic in spirit and perfectly suited for Catholic worship – a dream that came closer to reality only years after Dr. Gates' death. The result of the Goodhue-Gates collaboration was a brilliant spiritual and artistic statement, one of the real masterpieces of church architecture in this country, considered by many to be one of the finest examples of the Gothic Revival style.

The cornerstone was laid on 24 October 1912, and in May 1915, the new Chapel of the Intercession was consecrated, beginning its life as a place of worship and the object of admiration by lovers of beauty. Intercession has been called the quintessential Goodhue church, and was the architect's favorite, although he also designed the West Point Cadet Chapel, St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church, and St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue. Goodhue is buried in the north transept, in a monument created by the sculptor Lee Lawrie, his frequent collaborator.

In 1966, the Intercession complex — Church, Cloister, Parish Hall and Gates House (Vicarage) — were designated by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. On July 24, 1980, the complex was placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior, in recognition of their historical and artistic significance.

In 1976, the Chapel of the Intercession became the Church of the Intercession once again after receiving its independence from Trinity Church.
               
  Church of the Intercession - New York City (Photo: John Rust)
   
  Church of the Intercession - New York City (Photo: John Rust)
Schlicker Organ Company
Buffalo, N.Y. (1964)
Electro-pneumatic action
3 manuals, 52 registers, 48 stops, 67 ranks


The following was written by Robert Arnold, Schlicker representative and Assistant Organist for Trinity Parish, for The American Organist (July 1965):

"In 1961, a survey was made of the organ installed at the Chapel of the Intercession in 1915 by the Austin Organ Company; and, as a result, it was decided that this instrument should be replaced.

"At about the same time, Trinity Parish determined to replace the Aeolian-Skinner organ [Op. 768-A] built in 1950 for St. Paul's Chapel with a tracker action instrument to be built by the Schlicker Organ Company. A survery of the existing St. Paul's instrument revealed that it could be successfully rebuilt and enlarged to accomodate a building the size of the Chapel of the Intercession.

"The organ was removed from St. Paul's Chapel to the Schlicker factory in Buffalo where it was completely rebuilt and provided with a new console and other mechanical parts, and a considerable amount of the pipework for the Principal chorus. Old Aeolian-Skinner pipework that was retained was rescaled and revoiced with no nicking and open toes to obtain the best possible tonal results. Preparations were made for the future addition of a 32' pedal reed, and a Trompeta Real to replace the present dummy resonators that are arranged horizontally in the organ case.

"The casework, originally designed by Bertram Goodhue, has been retained.

"The installation was completed in time for the service on June 6 [1964], marking the 50th anniversary of the Chapel of the Intercession."
               
Great Organ (Manual II) – 61 notes
16
  Quintaton
61
2
  Octave
61
8
  Prinzipal *
61
    Mixture IV-VI ranks *
366
8
  Bourdon
61
8
  Trompete
61
8
  Gemshorn
61
16
 
Trompeta Real [TC]
preparation
4
  Octave *
61
8
 
Trompeta Real
preparation
4
  Rohrfloete
61
   
Chimes +
21 tubes
2 2/3
  Quint
61
   
+ toe stud only
 
     
 
     
Swell Organ (Manual III) – 61 notes, enclosed
16
  Bourdon
73
2
  Flautina
61
8
  Prinzipal *
73
    Mixture V ranks
305
8
  Rohrfloete
73
 
  Cymbel III ranks
183
8
  Salicional
73
16
  Bombarde
73
8
  Voix Celeste (FF)
68
8
  Trompette
73
8
  Aeoline
73
8
  Oboe
73
8
  Unda Maris (TC)
61
4
  Clarion
73
4
  Octave *
73
    Tremolo  
4
  Flute
73
       
 
     
 
     
Choir Organ (Manual I) – 61 notes, enclosed
8
  Viola Celeste II ranks
134
    Scharf IV ranks
244
8
  Chimney Flute
73
8
  English Horn
61
4
  Prinzipal
73
4
  Chalumeau
61
4
  Flute
73
    Tremolo  
2
  Waldfloete *
61
       
               
Positiv Organ (Manual I) – 56 notes
8
  Quintadena
56
    Zimbel III ranks *
168
4
  Prinzipal
56
16
 
Trompeta Real (TC)
preparation
2 2/3
  Nasat
56
8
 
Trompeta Real
preparation
2
  Zauberfloete
56
4
 
Trompeta Real (ext.)
preparation
1 3/5
  Terz
56
       
               
Pedal Organ – 32 notes
32
 
Contra Violone (ext.)
preparation
4
  Choralbass (fr. 8' Oct.)
16
  Prinzipal
32
2
  Nachthorn *
32
16
  Violone
32
    Mixture III ranks *
96
16
  Bourdon
32
32
 
Contra Fagott
preparation
16
  Quintadena
GT
16
  Posaune
56
8
  Octave
44
8
  Trumpet (fr. Posaune)
8
  Gedeckt
32
4
  Clarion (fr. Posaune)
               
           
* new pipes contributed by congregation
Couplers
    Great to Pedal 8'   Positiv to Great 8'
    Swell to Pedal 8'   Swell to Positiv 8', 4'
    Choir to Pedal 8'   Swell to Swell 16', 4'
    Positiv to Pedal 8'   Choir to Choir 16', 4', Unison Off
    Swell to Great 16', 8', 4'   Positiv Unison Off
    Choir to Great 16', 8', 4'    
               
Adjustable Combinations
   
Great Organ Pistons 1-2-3-4-5 (thumb)
Swell Organ Pistons 1-2-3-4-5-6 (thumb)
Choir Organ Pistons 1-2-3-4 (thumb)
Positiv Organ Pistons 1-2-3 (thumb)
Pedal Organ Pistons 1-2-3-4-5 (toe)
Entire Organ Pistons 1-2-3-4-5 (thumb & toe)
               
Reversibles
    Great to Pedal (thumb & toe)   Full Organ (thumb & toe)
    Swell to Pedal (thumb & toe)   Chimes (toe)
               
Pedal Movements
    Balanced Swell Pedal    
    Balanced Choir Pedal    
    Crescendo Pedal    
               
Church of the Intercession - New York City (Photo: John Rust)
  Church of the Intercession - New York City (Photo: John Rust)
   
Church of the Intercession - New York City (Photo: John Rust)
 
Church of the Intercession - New York City (Photo: John Rust)
               
  Austin Organ, Op. 441 (1912) in Church of the Intercession - New York City
  Goodhue Organ Case (c.1915)
Austin Organ Company
Hartford, Conn. – Opus 441 (1912)
Electro-pneumatic action
4 manuals, 66 registers, 53 stops, 55 ranks



The contract of the original organ in the present building was given to the Austin Organ Company after the organists of Trinity Church and Intercession Chapel had spent a considerable time searching out tonal and mechanical qualities in present-day organs. Austin's specification called for a completely enclosed organ, except for the diapasons on the Great, with a stoplist rich in orchestral voices. Bertram Goodhue designed the organ case which features display pipes of plain zinc and three sets of Spanish-style, horizontal non-speaking pipes. Both the organ and chapel were to be completed in time for the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, held in New York during October 1913.

In 1964, the organ was removed in preparation for the installation of the rebuilt Aeolian-Skinner organ (Op. 768-A, 1950) that had been in St. Paul's Chapel of Trinity Parish. The Austin organ was broken up for parts and distributed, with a good deal of it donated to St. Mary's Episcopal Church in Manhattanville.
               
Great Organ (Manual II) – 61 notes, partially enclosed
16
  Double Open Diapason
61
4
  Principal
61
8
  First Open Diapason
61
4
  Flute Harmonic
61
8
  Second Open Diapason
61
2
  Fifteenth
61
8
  Violoncello *
61
16
  Double Trumpet *
61
8
  Doppel Flute *
61
8
  Trumpet *
61
8
  Melodia *
61
4
  Clarion *
61
           
* enclosed in Choir box
Swell Organ (Manual III) – 61 notes, enclosed
16
  Bourdon
73
4
  Chimney Flute
73
8
  Diapason Phonon
73
2
  Flautino
61
8
  Horn Diapason
73
 
  Solo Mixture 3 ranks
183
8
  Stopped Flute
73
16
  Contra Fagotto
73
8
  Viole d'Orchestre
73
8
  Cornopean
73
8
  Viole Celeste (TC)
61
8
  Oboe
73
8
  Salicional
73
8
  Vox Humana
73
8
  Aeoline
73
4
  Clarion
73
8
  Quintadena
73
    Tremolo  
4
  Octave
73
       
 
     
 
     
Choir Organ (Manual I) – 61 notes, enclosed
16
  Dulciana
73
4
  Gemshorn
73
8
  Geigen Principal
73
4
  Flauto Traverso
73
8
  Concert Flute
73
2
  Piccolo
61
8
  Unda Maris (TC)
61
8
  Clarinet
73
8
  Dolce
73
    [Tremolo]  
8
  Vox Angelica
73
   
Chimes
25 tubes
8
  Silverette
73
       
               
Solo Organ (Manual IV) – 61 notes, enclosed
16
  Contra Gamba
73
16
  Tuba Profunda
97
8
  Stentorphone
73
8
  Tuba Harmonic (fr. 16')
8
  Flauto Major
73
4
  Tuba Clarion (fr. 16')
8
  Gross Gamba
73
8
  Orchestral Oboe
73
8
  Gamba Celeste
73
    Tremolo  
4
  Flute Ouverte
73
       
               
Pedal Organ – 32 notes
32
  Magnaton
32
8
  Gross Floete (fr. O.D.)
16
  Open Diapason
56
8
  Dolce Flute (fr. Bdn.)
16
  Second Diapason
GT
4
  Octave Flute (fr. O.D.)
16
  Bourdon
44
16
  Fagotto
SW
16
  Violone
SO
16
  Trombone
32
16
  Gedackt
SW
16
  Tuba Profunda
SO
16
  Dulciana
CH
8
  Tuba Harmonic
SO
8
  Cello [Gamba Celeste]
SO
       
               
Couplers
    Great to Pedal 8'   Solo to Swell 8'
    Swell to Pedal 8', 4'   Swell to Choir 16', 8', 4'
    Choir to Pedal 8'   Solo to Choir 16', 8', 4'
    Solo to Pedal 8', 4'   Great to Solo 8'
    Swell to Great 16', 8', 4'   Swell to Swell 16', 4', Unison Off
    Choir to Great 16', 8', 4'   Choir to Choir 16', 4', Unison Off
    Solo to Great 8', 4'   Solo to Solo 16', 4', Unison Off
               
Adjustable Combinations
   
Solo Organ Pistons 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 (thumb)
Swell Organ Pistons 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 (thumb)
Great Organ Pistons 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 (thumb)
Choir Organ Pistons 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 (thumb)
Pedal Organ Pistons 1-2-3-4-5-6 (toe)
               
Accessories
    Balanced Swell Pedal *   Great to Pedal, reversible
    Balanced Choir & Great Pedal *   Solo to Pedal, reversible
    Balanced Solo Pedal *   Solo to Great, reversible
    Balanced Crescendo Pedal (Adjustable) *   Sforzando Pedal
         * with indicators      
             
Organ in church located at 158th Street and Broadway:

Unknown builder


On Tuesday evening, December 7, 1899, a new organ was formally opened with an organ recital under the direction of Mr. Samuel A. Baldwin, organist and choirmaster of the church. Mr. Baldwin was assisted by Miss Pearl Benham, contralto, and the boys of the choir. No further information about this organ has been located.
               
  Interior of 1872 Church of the Intercession - New York City (courtesy Larry Trupiano)
  Interior and organ case (Wurts Bros., c.1910)
Organ in church located at 158th Street and Broadway:

J.H. & C.S. Odell
New York City (c.1872?) – burned (1899)
Mechanical action


The second church building had an organ built by J.H. & C.S. Odell of New York City, but its size and date are unknown. One might assume that the organ was contemporary with the 1872 building, but supporting documentation has not been found. In the photo at right the organ console is not visible (there appears to be a drape behind the pulpit that mave have hidden the console), suggesting it may have had electric action. In an Odell Company Ledger Book there is an entry (p. 140, July 26, 1899) that states: "Appraising organ destroyed by fire..."

Specifications of this organ have not yet been located.
               

Organ in church located at 154th Street and Tenth Avenue:

Unknown builder


In the church's Vestry Minutes are several entries about an organ in the first building:

  • Sep. 29, 1869: The church Organ was entirely used up and incapable of being repaired. Ok given to the Music Committee with power purchase a new Organ if they can raise the funds.

  • Feb. 1, 1871: Resolved to adhere to the original agreement, or understanding, with regard to the purchase of the organ, and that the treasurer be authorized to pay the sum of $250 and execute a Chattel Mortgage, to date from this day.

  • Mar. 27, 1871: Choir informed music must end by May 1st. Clerk authorized to execute a Chattel Mortgage on the Organ, to secure Mr. Vanderlip for balance due on the Issue.

  • Apr. 22, 1871: Ok for the Music Committee to engage a Choir at an expense not to exceed $1500 per annum,including the salary of the organist.

  • Feb. 10, 1872: Ok given to sell the old Organ

No further information about the builder or date of this organ has been discovered.

               
Sources:
     The American Organist (July 1965). Specifications of Schlicker Organ (1964).
     Church of the Intercession Vestry Minutes (1869-1872). Archives of the Episcopal Diocese of New York. Courtesy Wayne Kempton, Archivist.
     Church of the Intercession web site: http://www.intercessionnyc.org/
     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.
     Dunlap, David. From Abyssinian to Zion: A Guide to Manhattan's Houses of Worship. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004.
     Gates, Milo Hudson. "A Description of the Chapel of the Intercession." New York City: Trinity Parish, 1931.
     "Harlem and the Bronx," Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Dec. 7, 1899). Recital by Samuel A. Baldwin.
     J.H. & C.S. Odell Ledger Book. Entry (July 26, 1899, p. 140) concerning appraisal of Odell organ destroyed by fire in 1899. Courtesy Larry Trupiano.
     "New Four-manual for New York City." The Diapason (Feb. 1, 1913). Specifications of Austin Organ, Op. 441 (1912).
     Nickerson's Illustrated Church, Musical and School Directory of New York and Brooklyn. New York: Nickerson & Young, 1895.
     Ochse, Orpha. Austin Organs. Richmond: The Organ Historical Society, 2001.
     Reed, Clinton, and Gerald Weale. "The New Organ at The Chapel of the Intercession," pub. by the chapel. Archives of the Episcopal Diocese of New York. Courtesy Wayne Kempton, Archivist.

Illustrations:
     Church of the Intercession web site. Image of first church building.
     Gottscho, Samuel H. Bertram G. Goodhue tomb (1929). Collection of the Museum of the City of New York.
     Nickerson's Illustrated Church, Musical and School Directory of New York and Brooklyn. Exterior (c.1895).
     Rust, John. Color exterior, interiors, organ.
     Wurts Bros. (New York, N.Y.). Interior (c.1910), exterior (c.1915) and Goodhue Organ Case (c.1915). Collection of the Museum of the City of New York. Courtesy Larry Trupiano.