F.W. Woolworth Residence - New York City
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Frank W. Woolworth Residence

990 Fifth Avenue at 80th Street
New York, N.Y. 10021


Organ Specifications:
► III/49 Aeolian Company, Op. 1144 (1910, 1914)
► II/17 Aeolian Company, Op. 874 (1899)



F. W. Woolworth  
Frank Winfield Woolworth was born in Rodman, N.Y., on April 13, 1852, and spent his childhood on the family's farm in Great Bend, N.Y. After attending a business college in Watertown, NY, he worked in the dry goods store of Moore & Smith in Watertown, at a salary of $10 a week. He married the former Jennie Creighton in 1876, with whom they had three daughters. In February 1879, Woolworth started his first "five-and-dime" store in Utica, NY, which later failed and closed in May 1880. Undaunted, Frank Woolworth opened a store in Lancaster, PA, on June 21, 1881, which was the successful beginning of his chain of stores. Woolworth opened many others and soon extended business throughout the United States and to several foreign countries. Other retailers soon imitated his idea, including McCrory's, J.J. Newbury, S.S. Kresge (now KMart), and even a five-and-dime chain (C.S. Woolworth & Company) developed by his younger brother, Charles Sumner Woolworth. In 1911, with more than 1000 five-and-dime stores in the chain, the F. W. Woolworth Company was incorporated.

In 1901, the Woolworth family moved into their new Fifth Avenue mansion, which had been designed by C.P.H. Gilbert. Early in 1910, Woolworth commissioned Cass Gilbert (no relation to C.P.H. Gilbert) to design a "Cathedral of Commerce" which would tower over City Hall Park on the southwest corner of Broadway and Park Place. Woolworth paid cash for the construction of the building, which ultimately cost $13.5 million. When it opened in 1913, the 58-story Woolworth Building was, at 792 feet, the tallest building in the world, a title it held until the 1,048-foot Chrysler Building was finished in 1930. At the same time, from 1911-1915, he engaged C.P.H. Gilbert again to design houses back uptown on East 80 Street for his daughters: 2 East 80 for Edna (Mrs. Franklyn) Hutton; 4 East 80 for Helena (Mrs. Charles) McCann and 6 East 80 for Jessie (Mrs. James) Donahue. All three townhouses remain today. In 1914, when travel abroad was impossible due to the Great War (World War I), Woolworth built "Winfield Hall " on an 18-acre estate in the North Country Colony section of Glen Cove, N.Y. This Gold Coast retreat included a two-manual, 23-rank Aeolian organ, Opus 1318 (1914), but it and the house were destroyed by fire in 1916. Woolworth rebuilt a new and even larger house into which a four-manual, 76-rank Aeolian organ, Op. 1410 (1916) was installed.

Frank Woolworth died on April 8, 1919 in New York City, a few days before his 67th birthday, the result of a tooth infection and his pathological fear of dentists. The funeral took place in Woolworth's Fifth Avenue mansion, with Frank Taft—his close friend and Art Director of the Aeolian Company—playing the organ. The Fifth Avenue mansion was demolished in the 1920s and replaced by an apartment building in 1927. The last Woolworth stores were closed in 1998.
           
 

Aeolian Organ, Op. 1144 (1910) in Frank W. Woolworth Residence - New York City (photo: Organ Historical Society)

Aeolian Company
New York City – Opus 1144 (1910)
Electro-pneumatic action
3 manuals, 58 stops, 49 ranks



In 1910, the Aeolian Company enlarged the original 1899 organ to three manuals and 37 ranks. Solo and Echo divisions were installed a floor below in the billiard room, but tone chutes cut into the floor of the music room allowed the organ to be heard. In 1914, the organ was relocated to spaces created in the reception room and ceiling of the music room, new stops and an Antiphonal division were added in a room over the library, and two drums were added to the main organ. Woolworth enjoyed playing the organ for hours and delighted in entertaining his guests. For this rebuilding, Woolworth requested the addition of special theatrical effects which would imitate the sound of thunder and rain, plus colored lighting in the coves which was controlled by a dimmer switchboard within the console. Conduits were installed in the walls, stairs, closets—and even the hollowed bedposts—making the organ audible in remote areas of the mansion.
               
Great Organ (Manual I) – 61 notes, enclosed (4" pressure)
8
  Diapason F *
61
8
  String PP *
61
8
  Diapason MF
61
4
  Flute (high)
61
8
  Flute F
61
2
  Piccolo
61
8
  String F
61
8
  Trumpet
61
8
  String MF
61
8
  Clarinet [free reed]
61
8
  Flute P
61
    Tremolo  
8
  String P
61
       
               
Choir Organ (Manual III) – 61 notes, enclosed
8
  Diapason F *
GT
8
  String P
GT
8
  Diapason MF
GT
8
  String PP *
GT
8
  Flute F
GT
4
  Flute (high)
GT
8
  String F
GT
2
  Piccolo
GT
8
  String MF
GT
8
  Trumpet
GT
8
  Flute P
GT
8
  Clarinet [free reed]
GT

     

     
Swell Organ (Manual II) – 61 notes, enclosed (3½" pressure)
16
  Flute (deep)
61
4
  Flute (high)
61
8
  Horn Diapason
61
4
  String (high)
61
8
  Flute
61
2
  Piccolo
61
8
  Quintadena *
61
    String P Mixture (5 ranks)
305
8
  Doppel Flute *
61
16
  Bassoon (deep) *
61
8
  String F
61
8
  Trumpet
61
8
  String F Vibrato [TC]
49
8
  Oboe
61
8
  String P
61
8
  Orchestral Oboe
61
8
  String P Vibrato [TC]
49
8
  Vox Humana
61
8
  String PP
61
    Tremolo  
               
Solo Organ (playable from Manual I or II) – 61 notes, enclosed (6" pressure)
8
  English Horn [free reed]
61
8
  Tuba
61
8
  Orchestral Clarinet [free reed]
61
    Tremolo  
               
Antiphonal Organ (playable from Choir) – 61 notes, enclosed
8
  Diapason
61
8
  Vox Humana
61
8
  Flute
61
    Tremolo  
    String Mixture (5 ranks)
305
    Chimes  
               
Echo Organ (playable from Manual II or III) – 61 notes, enclosed (3½" pressure)
8
  Flute
61
8
  Vox Humana
61
8
  Flute (Quintadena)
61
    Tremolo  

     

     
Pedal Organ – 30 notes (4" wind pressure)
16
  Flute F (deep)
30
8
  Flute
30
16
  String (deep) *
30
16
  Bassoon (deep)
SW
16
  Flute P (deep)
SW
       
               
Percussions
    Harp (augmented) – 61 notes, playable from Swell or Choir
    Chimes – 20 tubes, old, playable from Swell or Great
    Triangle
               
Couplers
    Swell to Great 16', 8', 4'       Echo to Swell  
    Choir to Great       Antiphonal to Swell **  
    Solo to Great       Great 16', 4', Release  
    Swell to Choir       Choir 16', 4', Release  
    Solo to Choir **       Great to Pedal 8', 4'  
    Echo to Choir       Swell to Pedal 8,' 4'  
    Swell 16', 4', Release       Choir to Pedal  
    Solo to Swell          
           
* added in 1914
     
** added in 1918
               
Combination Pistons
    Great, Swell, Choir: I, II, III, IV, Release
    General Release
               
Combination Pedals
    Tutti I, II, III, IV, Tutti Release
               
Accessories
Expression: Swell, Great-Choir, Solo, Echo, Antiphonal   Tonal Pedal  
Great to Pedal (Reversible)     Sforzando Pedal  
           
 

Aeolian Organ, Op. 874 (1899) in Frank W. Woolworth Residence - New York City (photo: Organ Historical Society)

Aeolian Company
New York City – Opus 874 (1899)
Electro-pneumatic action
2 manuals, 16 stops, 17 ranks



The first organ in Woolworth's Fifth Avenue mansion was located in the second floor drawing room. It was contracted in 1899 but the family did not move into the mansion until 1901. Most of its 17 ranks were reused when the organ was enlarged by Aeolian in 1910 as Opus 1144.
               
Great Organ (Manual I) – 58 notes, enclosed
8
  Open Diapason
58
4
  Flute Harmonique
58
8
  Dulciana
58
8
  Saxophone *
58
8
  Viol di Gamba
58
  Chimes (installed 1903)
8
  Quintadena
58
       
8
  Concert Flute
58
   
* originally to be a Corno di Bassetto

     

     
Swell Organ (Manual II) – 58 notes, enclosed
8
  Rohr Flöte
58
4
  Violina
58
8
  Viole d'Orchestre
58
8
  Orchestral Oboe
58
8
  Dolcissimo
58
    Tremulant  
8
  Unda Maris II [TC]
92
       

     

     
Echo Organ – 58 notes, enclosed
8
  Fan Flöte [sic]
58
    Tremulant  
8
  Vox Humana
58
       

     

     
Pedal Organ – 27 notes
16
  Contra Bass
27
     
               
Couplers
    Swell to Great 8', 4'          
    Swell to Pedal          
    Great to Pedal          
               
Accessories
Combination pistons under respective keyboards operating speaking stops:
    Great: Piano, Mezzo, Forte          
    Swell: Piano, Mezzo, Forte          
Balanced Crescendo Pedal        
Three balanced expression pedals: Great, Swell, and Echo
"Echo On" "Swell Off" Ventil
           
Source:
     City of Watertown, N.Y. web site: www.citywatertown.org
     Smith, Rollin. The Aeolian Pipe Organ and its Music. Richmond: The Organ Historical Society, 1998.
     Stern, Robert A.M., Gregory Gilmartin and Thomas Mellins. New York 1930: Architecture and Urbanism Between the Two World Wars. New York: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., 1987.

Photos:
     The American Organ Archive, Organ Historical Society. Aeolian Company organ, Op. 874 (1899); Aeolian Company organ, Op. 1144 (1910).
     Public Domain. Exterior; F.W. Woolworth portrait.
           
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