Madison Avenue Baptist Church - New York City (photo: Steven E. Lawson)
 
Click on images to enlarge
Madison Avenue Baptist Church

30 East 31st Street at Madison Avenue
New York, N.Y. 10016
http://www.mabcnyc.org/


Organ Specifications:
Madison Avenue at East 31st Street
Present building (since 1930)
III/30 Henry Pilcher's Sons, Op. 1527 (1931)
First building (1858-1930)
III/37 George Jardine & Son (1892)
II/30 Henry Erben (1860)
Lexington Avenue at East 30th Street (1849-1858)
• unknown


Madison Avenue Baptist Church is one of the older Baptist societies in New York City, having been established in 1839 as the Rose Hill Baptist Sunday-school and Church on East 30th Street between Third and Lexington Avenues. The society met in homes during its early years.

First Moravian Church - New York City (photo: Steven E. Lawson)  
Original building (1849-1858)
 
Madison Avenue Baptist Church (1859-1930) - New York City (Byron Company, 1907, MCNY)  
Second building (1858-1930)  

In 1849 a permanent meeting house was erected on the southwest corner of Lexington Avenue and 30th Street, after which the congregation became known as Lexington Avenue Baptist Church. Designed in a Lombardian-Romanesque style, the brick structure had a plain exterior and interior. The congregation was at this location only nine years before plans were made for a larger building.

Under the leadership of the Rev. Dr. William Hague (1808-1887), pastor, the church purchased five lots on the southeast corner of East 31st and Madison Avenue. On this site was erected an impressive Romanesque-style brick edifice with a facade along Madison Avenue that included three entrances and two square towers of unequal height. The completed church accomodated nearly 1,200 persons and was dedicated in January 1861. Upon moving to this location the congregation took its present name, Madison Avenue Baptist Church. The old Lexington Avenue church building was sold to the (Protestant Episcopal) Church of the Mediator, and exists today as the First Moravian Church, who purchased it in 1869.

In April 1861, shortly after moving into the new building on Madison Avenue, hostilities that would develop into the American Civil War broke out. To complicate matters, Dr. Hague became ill and during the summer months the church was without a pastor. By October 1862, the society was heavily in debt and risked financial embarrassment. About the same time, the congregation of Oliver Street Baptist Church was desiring to sell their property and move uptown. An arrangement was entered into by a small minority of both societies by which the deed of the Madison Avenue church was transferred, without consideration, to the Oliver Street church, who agreed to pay the floating debt and assume the mortgages of the Madison Avenue church, plus a payment of about $10,000. Almost immediately dissensions arose over which society owned the property, ultimately resulting in litigation that lasted nearly 15 years. Members of the Madison Avenue society held services for some time in the Home of the Friendless on 29th Street, while many members of the Oliver Street church held their services in an edifice on 53rd Street, using the name of Madison Avenue Baptist Church. In March 1878, the Court of Appeals in Albany ruled that the property belonged to the originators of the Madison Avenue congregation.

During the year preceding the final decision of the court, the church was closed for repairs. As reported in The New York Times (Dec. 11, 1877):

"The Trustees have expended about $12,000 in redecorating and refitting the church, under the supervision of Mr. A. A. Anderson. The apex of the chancel arch is painted a torquois [sic] blue, with gilt stars, and the grand arch, over the body of the church, is an azure blue. All the frescoing is on solid wood, or plaster of Paris, and the gilding of the finest gold leaf. The organ has been repainted and redecorated, and put in thorough order, under the supervision of Mr. Henry Erbin [sic], its original builder. It is the intention of the Trustees to open the church for public worship as soon as they have secured the services of a pastor."

In 1903, the ordination of the Rev. Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick – the most prominent liberal Baptist minister of the early 20th Century and author of the hymn "God of Grace and God of Glory" – was held at Madision Avenue Baptist. Fosdick would later serve as minister of First Presbyterian, Park Avenue Baptist, and then Riverside Church, all in New York City.

During the late 1920s, several "Skyscraper Churches" were built in Manhattan (e.g., Fifth Church of Christ, Scientist, Second Presbyterian, Calvary Baptist, and First Reformed Episcopal) in which a church facility is incorporated into an apartment or hotel building. Such arrangements usually capitalized on the church's prime location, while producing a steady source of income. Madison Avenue Baptist Church entered into an agreement with developer Morris H. Rothschild, who would build a 17-story residential hotel that included a separate space for the church. According to The New York Times (Mar. 12, 1930), the property was to be leased for 84 years and the church was to receive $30,000 annually from the deal. As designed by Jardine, Hill & Murdock of New York City, the church would occupy the first floor stories of the $2,000,000 building. The auditorium would be equipped with furnishings and new pews costing $100,000, including $20,000 for a new pipe organ. Demolition on the old church was to start on May 1, 1930, and the new building would be completed by October 1, 1931. The new Madison Avenue Baptist Church, built into the lower floors of the Roger Williams apartment hotel, was formally opened on Sunday morning, October 11, 1931.

         
  Madison Avenue Baptist Church - New York City (1960 Postcard)
Henry Pilcher's Sons
Louisville, Ky. – Opus 1527 (1931)
Electro-pneumatic action
3 manuals, 47 stops, 30 ranks


The Henry Pilcher's Son organ for Madison Avenue Baptist Church was installed in October 1931. It was dedicated October 11-16 by Mr. H. Everett Hall, church organist, assisted by Mr. Charles M. Courboin as guest recitalist. This organ was removed in the 1990s and replaced by electronic instruments.
               
Great Organ (Manual II) – 61 notes, enclosed with Choir
8
  1st Diapason
73
2
  Fifteenth [ext. 4' Octave]
8
  2nd Diapason
73
    Mixture IV ranks
244
8
  Philomela
73
8
  Tuba
73
8
  Gamba
73
    Tremulant  
4
  Octave
73
    Chimes 
EC
4
  Philomela [ext.]
       

     

     
Swell Organ (Manual III) – 61 notes, enclosed
16
  Bourdon [unit]
97
2 2/3
  Bourdon [ext.]
8
  Phonon Diapason
73
2
  Bourdon [ext.]
8
  Bourdon [ext.]
8
  Cornopean
73
8
  Viol d'Orchestre
73
8
  Oboe
73
8
  Viole Celeste
73
8
  French Horn
73
8
  Aeoline
73

  Tremulant  
4
  Bourdon [ext.]
    Chimes 
EC

     

     
Choir Organ (Manual I) – 61 notes, enclosed
16
  Dulciana [unit]
97
4
  Dulciana
8
  English Diapason
73
2 2/3
  Dulciana
8
  Concert Flute
85
8
  Clarinet
73
8
  Viola
73
    Tremulant  
8
  Dulciana

 
Harp [Deagan]
61 bars
4
  Concert Flute [ext.]
    Celesta  

     

     
Echo Organ – 61 notes, enclosed ("playable by couplers from the Swell and Choir manuals")
8
  Flauto Dolce
73
8
  Vox Humana
61
8
  Flauto Dolce Celeste [TC]
61
    Tremulant  
8
  Vox Angelica
61
   
Chimes [Deagan]
21 tubes
4
  Flauto Dolce [ext.]
       
               
Pedal Organ – 32 notes
32
  Resultant
16
  Dulciana
CH
16
  Diapason
44
8
  Diapason [ext.]
16
  Subbass
32
8
  Bourdon [ext.]
16
  Bourdon
44
8
  Flute Dolce
SW
16
  Bourdon
SW
8
  Dulciana
CH
16
  Gamba [ext. GT]
12
16
  Tuba [ext. GT]
12
               
Couplers
    "29 Couplers"          
               
Adjustable Combinations
    "25 Combons"          
               
Expression
    Balanced Pedal – Great & Choir    
    Balanced Pedal – Swell    
    Balanced Pedal – Echo    
    Balanced Pedal – Master    
    Register Crescendo Pedal    
           
George Jardine & Son
New York City (1892)
Mechanical action
3 manuals, 33 stops, 37 ranks


In 1892, George Jardine & Son of New York City enlarged the existing organ built by Henry Erben in 1860. This organ was transferred to the Chapel Auditorium of the new building in 1931.
               
Great Organ (Manual II)
16
  Open Diapason  
4
  Night Horn  
8
  Open Diapason  
2 2/3
  Quintina  
8
  Viola da Gamba  
2
  Fife  
8
  Wald Flute       Mixture III ranks  
8
  Dulciana  
8
  Trumpet  
8
  Stopped Diapason  
8
  Clarinet  
4
  Principal          

     

     
Swell Organ (Manual III) – enclosed
16
  Bourdon Bass  
4
  Principal  
16
  Bourdon Treble  
2
  Flageolet  
8
  Open Diapason  
  Cornet III ranks  
8
  Viol d'Amour  
8
  Cornopean  
8
  Stopped Diapason  
8
  Oboe  

     

     
Choir Organ (Manual I) – enclosed
8
  Salicional  
4
  Salicet  
8
  Aeoline  
2
  Piccolo  
8
  Melodia  
8
  Vox Humana  
4
  Flute Harmonique          

     

     
Pedal Organ
16
  Open Diapason  
8
  Violoncello  
16
  Violin Gamba  
16
  Trombone  
               
Couplers
    Swell to Great   Great to Pedals
    Swell to Great octaves   Swell to Pedals
    Swell to Choir   Choir to Pedals
    Choir to Great    
               
Combinations
    Six Piston Knobs to Swell   Reversible Great to Pedal
    Three Combination Pedals to Great    
           
Henry Erben
New York City (1860)
Mechanical action
2 manuals, 26 stops, 30 ranks


The original organ for the church at 133 Madison Avenue was built by Henry Erben of New York City. As reported in Dwight's Journal of Music (Apr. 13, 1861), the "new and superior toned organ of 36 [sic] stops" cost $5000, and its peculiar qualities were "exhibited" by Mr. George W. Morgan of Grace Church to a large and select audience on Monday evening, April 8, 1861.
               
Great Organ (Manual I)
16
  Open Diapason  
4
  Night Horn  
8
  Open Diapason  
2 2/3
  Twelfth  
8
  Viola da Gamba  
2
  Fifteenth  
8
  Wald Flute  
  Mixture III ranks  
8
  Dulciana  
8
  Trumpet  
8
  Stopped Diapason  
8
  Clarinet  
4
  Principal          

     

     
Swell Organ (Manual II) – enclosed
16
  Bourdon Bass  
4
  Principal  
16
  Bourdon Treble  
2
  Flageolet  
8
  Open Diapason  
  Cornet III ranks  
8
  Viol d'Amour  
8
  Cornopean  
8
  Stopped Diapason  
8
  Oboe  

     

     
Pedal Organ
16
  Open Diapason  
8
  Violoncello  
16
  Violon Gamba  
16
  Trombone  
               
Couplers
    Great to Pedal    
    Swell to Pedal    
    Swell to Great    
           
Sources:
     "A Long Church Litigation," The New York Times (Mar. 21, 1878).
     A Souvenir of Our Pastor, The Rev. William Hague, D.D. Boston: The Covenant Band of the Shawmut Avenue Baptist Church, 1869.
     "Church Music in New York." Dwight's Journal of Music (Apr. 13, 1861).
     The Diapason (Nov. 1931). Specifications of Henry Pilcher's Sons organ, Op. 1527 (1931). Courtesy Jeff Scofield.
     Dunlap, David. From Abyssinian to Zion: A Guide to Manhattan's Houses of Worship. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004.
     "Madison Av. Church Holds Dedication," The New York Times (Oct. 12, 1931).
     "Madison-Avenue Baptist Church," The New York Times (Dec. 31, 1877).
     "The Madison-Avenue Baptist Church," The New York Times (Dec. 11, 1877).
     Nelson, George. Organs in the United States and Canada Database. Seattle, Wash.
     The Organist (Vol. I, No. 10, Feb. 1893). Specification of Geo. Jardine & Son organ (1892). Courtesy Sand Lawn and Jonathan Bowen.
     "Plans Skyscraper to Include Church," The New York Times (Mar. 12, 1930).
     Webber, F.R. "Organ scrapbook" at Organ Historical Society Archives, Princeton, N.J. Specification of Geo. Jardine & Son organ (1892) showing additions to Henry Erben organ (1859). Courtesy Jonathan Bowen.

Illustrations:
     Byron Company (New York, N.Y.). Exterior (1907). Collection of Museum of the City of New York.
     eBay.com. Postcard (1960) of present church interior.
     Lawson, Steven E. Exterior of present church.