St. Agnes Catholic Church - New York City
 
Present church, opened in 1998
   
  Original building (c.1911) of St. Agnes Catholic Church - New York City
  Original church (1873-1992)
   
   
   
   
Church of St. Agnes
(Roman Catholic)

143 East 43rd Street
New York, N.Y. 10017
http://www.stagneschurchnyc.org/


Organ Specifications:
Present building (since 1998):
II/41 Mander Organs (1998)
I/4 G. C. Klop (1987) – Kistorgel (portative)
First building (1873-burned 1992):
III/32 Aeolian-Skinner Organ Co., Op. 1183 (1950)
III/54 Hook & Hastings Co., Op. 2529 (1926)
• III/48 E. & G.G. Hook & Hastings, Op. 1821 (1899)
• III/ Henry Erben (1875)


St. Agnes Church was established in 1873 to serve the Italian laborers at the nearby Grand Central Depot. The first church, designed by Lawrence J. O'Connor in the Neo-Gothic style and built from 1873-1877, was a familiar sight to commuters and workers in the area around Grand Central Terminal. For over 50 years, the church was known as the location of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen's radio and television broadcasts. Later, John Cardinal O'Connor led an anti-abortion march from this church.

The adjoining rectory was built in 1904 by Jeremiah O’Rourke & Sons, architects of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark.

On December 10, 1992, the church building was destroyed by a devastating fire that left only the walls and towers standing. Plans were quickly made to rebuild on the same site.

St. Agnes Catholic Church - New York City (photo: Steven E. Lawson)  
The present church, designed by Acheson, Thornton, Doyle, was conceived as a smaller version of the Church of Il Gesù in Rome. The two surviving towers were reclad to harmonize with the new Italianate design.
           
 

Mander organ  (1998) at St. Agnes Catholic Church - New York City (photo: Steven E. Lawson)

Mander Organs
London, England (1998)
Mechanical key action
Electric stop action
2 manuals, 31 stops, 41 ranks


Planning for the present organ in St. Agnes Church began shortly after the building was destroyed by fire in 1992. At the invitation of Dennis Crowley, then organist of the church, Mander Organs of London was invited to submit a proposal. Further discussions continued with Crowley's successor, Richard Porterfield, and Barbara Owen, organ consultant. The resulting contract called for Manders to build an organ with 31 stops and mechanical action to the keys and pedals. The detached two-manual console is reversed and has electric stop action with a 64-level capture system. As designed by Geoff McMahon of Manders, the organ case has a facade of speaking pipes, behind which are the pipes of the Great Organ, with the Swell above and the Pedal on either side.

The organ was opened on October 5, 1998, with a gala concert performed by Kent Tritle, organist at St Ignatius Loyola Catholic Church, and Gerre Hancock, organist at St Thomas Church Fifth Avenue.

               
Great Organ (Manual I) – 61 notes
16
  Bourdon
61
2
  Fifteenth
61
8
  Open Diapason
61
2 2/3
  Mounted Cornet III ranks
183
8
  Stopped Diapason
61
1 1/3
  Fourniture IV ranks
244
8
  Gamba
61
8
  Trumpet
61
4
  Principal
61
8
  Cromorne
61
4
  Chimney Flute
61
    Tremulant  

     

     
Swell Organ (Manual II) – 61 notes, enclosed
8
  Salicional
61
1 3/5
  Tierce
61
8
  Celeste
61
1
  Mixture III ranks
183
8
  Gedackt
61
16
  Fagotto
61
4
  Principal
61
8
  Trumpet
61
4
  Block Flute
61
8
  Oboe
61
2 2/3
  Nazard
61
    Tremulant  
2
  Fifteenth
61
       

     

     
Pedal Organ – 32 notes
16
  Open Diapason
32
4
  Octava
32
16
  Bourdon
32
2 2/3
  Mixture IV ranks
128
8
  Principal
32
16
  Trombone
32
8
  Flute
32
8
  Trumpet 
32
               
Couplers
    Great to Pedal          
    Swell to Pedal          
    Swell to Great          
               
Adjustable Combinations
   
Swell Organ Pistons 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 (thumb)
Great Organ Pistons 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 (thumb)
Pedal Organ Pistons 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 (toe)
Full Organ Pistons 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 (thumb & toe)
  General Cancel (thumb)
  Set (thumb)
               
Mechanicals
    Great to Pedal Reversible (thumb & toe)    
    Swell to Pedal Reversible (thumb & toe)    
    Swell to Great Reversible (toe)    
    Balanced Swell Pedal    
               
Mander organ  (1998) at St. Agnes Catholic Church - New York City (photo: Steven E. Lawson)   Mander organ  (1998) at St. Agnes Catholic Church - New York City (photo: Steven E. Lawson)   Mander organ  (1998) at St. Agnes Catholic Church - New York City (photo: Steven E. Lawson)
         
G. C. Klop
Garderen, The Netherlands (1987)
Mechanical action
1 manual, 4 stops, 4 ranks




The "kistorgel" (portative), built in 1987 by Gerrit C. Klop of The Netherlands, has four stops that are divided treble and bass.
 
G.C. Klop Kistorgel (1987) in St. Agnes Catholic Church - New York City (photo: Steven E. Lawson)
           
           
Manuaal – 54 notes
 
8
  Holpijp
54
   
4
  Roerfluit
54
   
2
  Octaaf
54
   
1 1/3
  Quint
54
   
           
Organ in first building:

Aeolian-Skinner Organ Co., Inc.
Boston, Mass. – Opus 1183 (1950)
Electro-pneumatic action
3 manuals, 32 stops, 32 ranks, 2,011 pipes


In 1950, the Hook & Hastings organ was replaced by a new organ built by Aeolian-Skinner of Boston. Aeolian-Skinner installed their instrument behind the existing twin cases and reused many pipes from the previous organ. This organ was somewhat altered over the years. On December 10, 1992, a fire started in one of the towers and rapidly engulfed the whole church. The organ tuners who were working on the organ at the time only just managed to vacate the building, leaving all their tools and personal belongings behind. This organ was destroyed in the fire.
               
Great Organ (Manual II) – 61 notes
16
  Violone
61
2 2/3
  Quint
61
8
  Diapason
61
2
  Super Octave
61
8
  Spitzflote
61
    Fourniture IV ranks
244
4
  Principal
61
    Chimes  

     

     
Swell Organ (Manual III) – 61 notes, enclosed
8
  Geigen Principal
73
    Plein Jeu III ranks
183
8
  Stopped Diapason
73
16
  Fagotto
73
8
  Viole de Gambe
73
8
  Trompette
73
8
  Viole Celeste
73
4
  Hautbois
73
4
  Flute Harmonique
73
    Tremulant  

     

     
Choir Organ (Manual I) – 61 notes, enclosed
8
  Viola
73
4
  Flauto Traverso
73
8
  Concert Flute
73
8
  Cromorne
73
8
  Dulciana
73
    Tremulant  
8
  Unda Maris [TC]
61
       
               
Pedal Organ – 32 notes
16
  Diapason
32
4
  Choralbass
32
16
  Bourdon
44
16
  Posaune [unit]
56
16
  Violone
GT
8
  Trumpet
16
  Gedeckt [ext. SW]
12
4
  Clarion
8
  Principal
32
 
  Chimes
GT
8
  Flute
       
           
  Hook & Hastings organ, Op. 2529 (1926) in St. Agnes Catholic Chuch - New York City
Organ in first building:

Hook & Hastings Co.
Boston, Mass. – Opus 2529 (1926)
Electro-pneumatic action
3 manuals, 54 stops, 54 ranks



In 1926, the church contracted with Hook & Hastings of Boston to rebuild the 1899 E. & G.G. Hook and Hastings organ, as described in The Diapason (June 1929):

     The Hook & Hastings Company has completed a piece of work which is attracting favorable attention in the modernization and enlargement of the organ at St. Agnes' Catholic Church, New York City. The instrument is now one of fifty-three speaking stops, with a three-manual console. This church is on Forty-third street, near Lexington avenue.
     The instrument is one with a majestic tone, with proper relative balance between the manuals and a complete ensemble. It is of the cathedral type, with the minimum of interchanging or extensions, a few interchangeable stops being added to increase the variety of effects.
     The new console contains all up-to-date features and the organ as now divided opens to view the beautiful memorial window at the rear of the choir loft. The choir has an amphitheater arrangement, the seats being in a semi-circular formation. The singers are in this way placed to the best advantage, their voices carrying through without being blanketed by those in the rows in front of them.
               
Great Organ (Manual II) – 61 notes
16
  Diapason
61
8
  Viole d'Orchestre
SW
16
  Lieblich Gedeckt
CH
4
  Flute Harmonique
61
8
  Open Diapason
61
2
  Fifteenth
61
8
  English Open Diapason
CH
    Mixture V ranks
305
8
  Soft Diapason
61
8
  Trumpet
61
8
  Doppel Flöte
61
4
  Clarion
61
8
  Viola da Gamba
61
    Chimes
CH
8
  Orchestral Flute
SW
       

     

     
Swell Organ (Manual III) – 61 notes, enclosed
16
  Bourdon
73
4
  Violina
73
8
  Diapason
73
2 2/3
  Nazard
61
8
  Stopped Diapason
73
2
  Flautino
61
8
  Salicional
73
1 3/5
  Tierce
61
8
  Viole d'Orchestre
73
    Dolce Cornet V ranks
305
8
  Orchestral Flute
73
16
  Contra Fagotto
73
8
  Voix Celeste [TC]
61
8
  Oboe
73
8
  Aeoline
73
8
  Cornopean
73
8
  Dolce Celeste
CH
8
  Vox Humana
73
4
  Flute d'Amour
73
       
               
Choir Organ (Manual I) – 61 notes, enclosed
16
  Lieblich Gedeckt
73
4
  Flauto Traverso
73
8
  English Diapason
73
2 2/3
  Twelfth
61
8
  Geigen Principal
73
2
  Piccolo Harmonique
61
8
  Melodia
73
8
  Clarinet
73
8
  Dulciana
73
8
  Cor Anglais
73
8
  Dolce Celeste [TC]
61
   
Chimes
20 tubes
8
  Voix Celeste
SW
       
               
Pedal Organ – 30 notes
32
  Resultant *
30
8
  Flute [ext.]
12
16
  Open Diapason
30
8
  Violoncello
30
16
  Bourdon
30
4
  Flute [ext.]
12
16
  Violone
30
16
  Trombone
30
16
  Lieblich Gedeckt
30
 
 
* 10-2/3' Quint (30 pipes) + 16' Diapason
               
Couplers
    Swell to Pedal 8', 4'   Choir to Great 16', 8', 4'
    Great to Pedal 8'   Swell to Choir 16', 8', 4'
    Choir to Pedal 8'   Great to Great 16', 8', 4'
    Pedal Divide   Swell to Swell 16', 8', 4'
    Swell to Great 16', 8', 4'   Choir to Choir 16', 8', 4'
               
Adjustable Combinations
   
Swell Organ Pistons 1-2-3-4-5 (thumb) Swell Cancel (thumb & toe)
Great Organ Pistons 1-2-3 (thumb) Great Cancel (thumb & toe)
Choir Organ Pistons 1-2-3-4 (thumb) Choir Cancel (thumb & toe)
General Pistons 1-2-3-4 (toe) General Release (thumb)
               
Reversibles
    Swell to Pedal (thumb & toe)   Swell to Great (thumb)
    Great to Pedal (thumb & toe)   Choir to Great (thumb)
    Choir to Pedal (thumb)   Swell to Choir (thumb)
               
Pedal Movements
    Balanced Swell Pedal    
    Balanced Choir Pedal    
    Balanced Crescendo Pedal    
    All Couplers on toe pistons    
    Release Octave Couplers on toe pistons    
           
Organ in first building:

E. & G.G. Hook & Hastings Co.
Boston, Mass. – Opus 1821 (1899)
Mechanical action
3 manuals, 48 registers


Concurrent with rebuilding the church following the December 1898 fire, a new organ was built in 1899 by E. & G.G. Hook & Hastings of Boston. Specifications for this organ have not yet been located.
           
Organ in first building:

Henry Erben
New York City (1875)
Mechanical action
3 manuals


The original organ for St. Agnes Church was built in 1875 by Henry Erben of New York City. On December 4, 1898, the organ was destroyed by fire that wrecked the interior of the church. Specifications for this organ have not yet been located.
           
Sources:
     Aeolian-Skinner Archives web site: http://aeolian-skinner.110mb.com/Specs/Op01183.html. Stoplist of Aeolian-Skinner organ, Op. 1183 (1950).
     The Catholic Church in the United States of America: Undertaken to Celebrate the Golden Jubilee of His Holiness, Pope Pius X, Vol. III. New York: The Catholic Editing Company, 1914.
     Church of Saint Agnes web site: http://www.stagneschurchnyc.org/
     "Dedication of St. Agnes' Church," The New York Times (May 5, 1877).
     Dunlap, David. From Abyssinian to Zion: A Guide to Manhattan's Houses of Worship. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004.
     Henk Klop web site: http://www.klop.info/nl/home/
     Kinzey, Allen, and Sand Lawn, comps. E.M. Skinner/Aeolian-Skinner Opus List. New Rev. Ed. Richmond: The Organ Historical Society, 1997.
     McFadden, Robert D. "Fire Guts St. Agnes, a Historic Manhattan Church," The New York Times (Dec. 11, 1992).
     Mohr, Louis F. Specifications (Sept. 1934) of Hook & Hastings organ, Op. 2529 (1926). Courtesy Larry Trupiano.
     Nelson, George. Organs in the United States and Canada Database. Seattle, Wash.
     "St. Agnes's Church Fire," The New York Times (Dec. 5, 1898).
     Van Pelt, William T., comp. The Hook Opus List, 1829-1916 in Facsimile. Richmond: The Organ Historical Society, 1991.
     "Work in New York By Hook & Hastings," The Diapason (June 1929). Description and stoplist of Hook & Hastings organ, Op. 2529 (1926). Courtesy Jonathan Bowen.

Illustrations:
     The Catholic Church in the United States of America: Undertaken to Celebrate the Golden Jubilee of His Holiness, Pope Pius X, Vol. III. Exterior (c.1911).
     Hook & Hastings organ, Op. 2529 (1926). Courtesy Larry Trupiano.
     Lawson, Steven E. Case and console of Mander organ (1998); G.C. Klop Kistorgel (1987).