Manhattan Congregational Church - New York City (1930 Press Photo)
  Second Building (1930)
Click on images to enlarge
Manhattan Congregational Church

2162 Broadway at 76th Street
New York, N.Y. 10024


Organ Specifications:
Second building (1930-c.1934)
• III/44 William W. Laws (1930)
First building (1901-1929)
III/31 Lyon & Healy, Op. 86 (1901)






The Manhattan Congregational Church was established in June 1896 after a group of persons placed an advertisement in the newspapers asking all who might wish to form a Congregational society on the West Side to meet at Leslie Hall, located at 83rd Street and Broadway. A total of 40 persons attended, and the society was organized on October 23, 1896. A provisional committee extended a call to the Rev. Henry A. Stimson, D.D., who had recently resigned as pastor of the Broadway Tabernacle.

Manhattan Congregational Church - New York City (Architect's Drawing)  
As the new society flourished, plans were made for a permanent church building. In January 1900, the church purchased property on Broadway, near the corner of 76th Street, that was 80 feet wide and 134 deep, with an L extending through to 76th Street. The New York firm of Stoughton & Stoughton was hired to prepare plans for a new church. Designed in the Louis XIII style, the red brick structure had deeply recessed windows and was richly ornamented in stone and terra cotta. Towering above the roof line was a bronze fleche. The Broadway facade included the main entrance to the church house, a two-story-and-attic building with various rooms for the parlors, Sunday school, library and offices on the ground floor; over these rooms was a large hall seating 400 people that was to be used for the Sunday school on Sunday and for lectures and concerts during the week. To the rear of the church house was the main auditorium with a seating capacity of 800 and an additional entrance opening onto 76th Street. The completed structure opened in 1901.

Following the completion of the IRT Subway in 1904, the area along upper Broadway experienced renewed development. By the end of the "Roaring 20s," property values had soared dramatically and many churches had sold their Broadway frontage and relocated to side streets. The Manhattan Congregational Church had considered moving but in 1927 the Rev. Edward H. Emett, pastor, announced that it had decided to remain and would replace its 1901 edifice with a modern "Skyscraper Church." Tillion & Tillion of New York City designed the 23-story building in which five floors were used for church facilities, including an 800-seat auditorium (with a groined ceiling and stained-glass windows), offices, gymnasium and assembly rooms. The hotel portion would be operated by a separate company known as Manhattan Towers, Inc., that would pay the church $20,000 a year in rent. Its 626 rooms and two penthouse apartments on the upper floors would be offered to tenants "who are in accord with the high principles for which a church stands." Hotel amenities included a lounge, coffee shop, grill room, card room and barber shop, plus a dance floor in the basement, and the developer agreed to lease only to businesses that would close on Sundays. The building featured an elaborate neo-Gothic facade at its base, Gothic-style details on the upper stories, and a cross on top of the tower. Built at a reported cost of $2.1 million, the completed building opened in 1930 as the economy was spiraling into the Depression. By 1931 the hotel had gone out of business and had not paid the church $120,000 in rent and other expenses. In April 1931, the church trustees sued Rev. Emett, charging that he had misappropriated funds since 1928. A few days before Christmas 1931, the building was sold at auction for $200,000, less than 10% of its original cost. The congregation was dissolved a few years later.

The Opera Apartments - New York City (cityrealty.com)  
In 1938, the building was again put up for auction but drew no bids. Until 1944, the church space was home to the New York Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In 1943, the city took over the building in lieu of $420,000 owed in back taxes. During World War II, 200 Waves occupied hotel rooms on five floors, and other floors were used for Navy housing until 1946. In 1969, the church sanctuary was transformed into the Promenade Theatre, so named for its opening play that included music by the Rev. Al Carmines. By the early 1970s, the hotel portion had become an S.R.O. (Single Room Occupancy) that housed many welfare recipients, but in 1974 a new owner evicted most of the residents and changed the name to the Hotel Opera following a $1 million renovation. About 1980, the building became a co-op called "The Opera."
         
Organ in skyscraper building at 2162 Broadway:

William W. Laws
Beverly, Mass. (1930)
Electro-pneumatic action
3 manuals, 44 stops


The organ in the 1930 skyscraper church was built that same year by William W. Laws of Beverly, Mass. It is quite possible that Laws moved and enlarged the 1901 Lyon & Healy organ from the previous church building. Laws noted that this organ had 3 manuals, 44 stops and 2167 pipes. Specifications for this organ have not yet been located.
         
  Lyon & Healy organ, Op. 86 (1901) in Manhattan Congregational Church - New York City (Lyon & Healy catalog, c.1902)
   
Organ in first building at 2162 Broadway:

Lyon & Healy
Chicago, Ill. – Opus 86 (1901)
Electro-pneumatic action
3 manuals, 29 stops, 31 ranks



The organ in the original Manhattan Congregational Church was built in 1901 by Lyon & Healy of Chicago. Following are specifications recorded (in October 1926) by Louis F. Mohr, an organ service person in the area. Mohr indicated that the organ was built in 1896, which would be contemporary with the society's first meeting place – Leslie Hall on 83rd Street and Broadway – but it seems unlikely that an organ of this size would be installed in a temporary location. Mohr also noted that the organ employed the "Bennett System," referring to the action developed by Robert J. Bennett, head of the pipe organ department at Lyon & Healy. Bennett left Lyon & Healy in 1902 to establish the Marshall-Bennett Organ Company in Rock Island, Illinois. The fate of this organ is unknown.
               
Great Organ (Manual II) – 61 notes
8
  Open Diapason
61
4
  Flute Harmonique
61
8
  Doppel Flute
61
2 2/3
  Octave Quint
61
8
  Gamba
61
2
  Super Octave
61
8
  Gemshorn
61
8
  Trumpet
61
4
  Octave
61
       

     

     
Swell Organ (Manual III) – 61 notes, enclosed
16
  Bourdon Treble [TC]
49
4
  Flauto Traverso
61
16
  Bourdon Bass
12
2
  Flautino
61
8
  Violin Diapason
61
    Dolce Cornet III ranks
183
8
  Stopped Diapason
61
8
  Oboe [TC]
49
8
  Salicional
61
8
  Bassoon
12
8
  Quintadena
61
    Tremulant  
8
  Aeoline
61
       
               
Choir Organ (Manual I) – 61 notes
8
  Geigen Principal
61
2
  Piccolo [Harmonique]
61
8
  Melodia
61
8
  Clarinet
61
8
  Dulciana
61
    Tremulant  
4
  Flute d'Amour
61
       

     

     
Pedal Organ – 30 notes
16
  Open Diapason
30
8
  Violoncello
30
16
  Bourdon
30
8
  Flute
30
               
Couplers
    Great to Pedal   Swell to Great at Octaves
    Swell to Pedal   Choir to Great
    Choir to Pedal   Swell to Choir
    Swell to Great   Great at Octaves
               
Adjustable Combinations
    None listed
               
Pedal Movements
    Balanced Swell Pedal    
    Crescendo Pedal    
           
Sources:
     "Church Has Anniversary," The New York Times (June 3, 1926).
     "Cornerstone Laid for Church-Hotel," The New York Times (Nov. 27, 1929).
     Dunlap, David W. From Abyssinian to Zion: A Guide to Manhattan's Houses of Worship. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004.
     Gray, Christopher. "Streetscapes/Broadway and 76th Street; A 1930 Church, With a Skyscraper Hotel on Top," The New York Times (Sep. 22, 2002).
     "Manhattan Congregational Church," The Treasury (Vol. XIX, No. 10, Feb. 1902).
     Mohr, Louis F. & Co. Specifications (Oct. 1926) of Lyon & Healy organ (1896 [sic]). Courtesy Larry Trupiano.
     "Religious News and Views," The New York Times (Nov. 10, 1900).
     Scharpeger, Charles. "Organ Notebook" with specifications of Lyon & Healy organ (1901). Courtesy Larry Trupiano.
     Schnurr, Stephen J., Jr. and Dennis E. Northway. Pipe Organs of Chicago. Oak Park, Ill.: Chauncey Park Press, 2005.
     Trupiano, Larry. Opus List (incomplete) for organbuilder William W. Laws.

Illustrations:
     American Architect and Building News (Aug. 8, 1903). Drawing by C. W. & A. A. Stoughton, Architects.
     cityrealty.com. Exterior (c.2010) of The Opera apartment building.
     eBay.com. Exterior (1930) of skyscraper church.
     Lyon & Healy catalog, 2nd ed. (c.1902). Interior showing Lyon & Healy organ, Op. 86 (1901). Courtesy Larry Trupiano.