Church of St. Francis of Assisi - New York City (Capitol Catholic Blogspot)
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Church of Saint Francis of Assisi
(Roman Catholic)

135 West 31st Street
New York, N.Y. 10001
http://www.stfrancisnyc.org


Organ Specifications:
Present building (since 1892)
IV/84 M.P. Möller, Inc., Op. 11753 (1987); rev. Glück (2010)
III/27 Kilgen Organ Company, Op. 7579 (1951)
III/44 Reuben Midmer & Son (1915)
• J.H. & C.S. Odell & Co., Op. 302 (1892)
First building (1844-1892)
II/22 J.H. & C.S. Odell & Co., Op. 120 (1873)


In 1844 the area once known as Bloomingdale was still a neighborhood of dirt roads and modest frame houses. Father Zachary Kunz, a Hungarian Franciscan priest, was faced with a dilemma. As pastor of St. John the Baptist Church on West 30th Street, he found himself standing outside an empty church – closed by the bishop of New York over a dispute with the parish’s lay trustees.

1844 Engraving of the Roman Catholic Church of St. Francis of Assisi - New York City  
First Church (1844-92)
 
Not wanting to leave his faithful parishioners without a place of worship, Father Zachary petitioned the bishop to open a new church. Within a short time he managed to purchase a piece of property only a short distance away from St. John’s. The cornerstone of the new church on West 31st Street was laid by Bishop John McCloskey on May 9, 1844. Father Zachary decided to dedicate the new edifice to St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of peacemakers.

Within a few months the new church was completed and services began. During the next forty years the parish grew and prospered, and by 1890 the need for a new and larger church became apparent to its pastor, Father Ludger Beck. Father Ludger presented his plans to his parishioners and received their full support. He next petitioned Archbishop Michael Corrigan for a loan of $15,000 against an estimated $60,000 construction cost. The sum was readily granted, and with the advent of the summer of 1892, the new church was completed.

  1892 Engraving of the Roman Catholic Church of St. Francis of Assisi - New York City
 
Present Church in 1892
The grand dedication ceremonies took place on Sunday, July 17, 1892. Archbishop Corrigan blessed the church and consecrated the three altars. Archbishop Winand M. Wigger of Newark, who had grown up across the street from the original church, delivered the sermon. He was also the donor of a large stained glass window dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi.

The city’s extraordinary growth at the turn of the century stimulated great social and economic change. It quickened the pace of urban development and altered the face of many neighborhoods. Nowhere was this impact felt more keenly than on West 31st Street. Many families moved away when their stable, working class community was transformed – almost overnight – into the heart of New York City’s notorious “Tenderloin District.”

To keep up with the changes around them, the Franciscan Friars inaugurated what was to become a way of life for “parish without parishioners.” Thus was born the concept of an urban “service church” suited to the needs of a transient population of commuters, shoppers, tourists, laborers and business persons.

The first of these innovations was the introduction of a Mass known as the Nightworkers' Mass, which was celebrated for employees working on the night shift as well as actors, newspapermen and travelers out of Penn Station who had either arrived in the city late at night, or had a long wait between connecting trains. 

Soon afterward, St. Francis Church responded to the spiritual needs of daytime employees and became the first church in America to receive permission to celebrate a daily Mass as late as 12:15 in the afternoon. Father Anselm Kennedy, the pastor who introduced the Noonday Mass, also began the practice of hearing confessions daily throughout the entire day. In response to the disaster of the Great Depression, the daily Breadline started in 1929 and has continued to serve the hungry every day since.

The Roman Catholic Church of St. Francis of Assisi - New York City (Steven E. Lawson)  
As the war years passed, St. Francis Church continued to grow in popularity, and more masses were added to the daily schedule. In the late 1950s plans were made for the renovation of the upper church. The dedication of three new marble altars in May of 1961 marked the end of five years of major construction. New entrances at 31st and 32nd Streets, new outdoor shrines and the air-conditioning of the upper church were accomplished during that time.
 
 

M. P. Möller Organ, Op. 11753 (1987) in the Roman Catholic Church of St. Francis of Assisi - New York City (Steven E. Lawson)

M. P. Möller, Inc.
Hagerstown, Md. – Opus 11753 (1987); rev. Glück (2010)
Electric slider action
Solid-state stop and combination action
4 manuals, 81 stops, 84 ranks








On January 23, 1987, the M.P. Möller Co. of Hagerstown, Md., signed a contract to build a new organ for St. Francis of Assisi Church. Möller retained the Reuben Midmer & Son case plus several ranks of pipes from earlier instruments. The four-manual drawknob console is of walnut and has tracker-touch manuals of bone with walnut sharps; the tilting-tablet couplers are of maple. As originally installed, the organ had 83 stops and 88 ranks.

During the final week of July 2009, several days of heavy rain took their toll on both the tower and the organ, flooding the Récit and Pédale, which are recessed into the tower. The parish contracted with Sebastian M. Glück of New York City to replace the destroyed slider chests of the Récit and to restore the expression enclosure and Pédale windchests. At that time, a contract was signed for Mr. Glück to carry out tonal revisions, revoicing, and tonal finishing. The Récit division was completed in the Autumn of 2010, although the rest of the instrument remains unrestored.
               
Grande-Orgue (Manual II) – 61 notes (3½" wind pressure)
16
  Violone [unit]
73
    Cymbale III-IV ranks
213
8
  Montre
61
16
  Bombarde
61
8
  Bourdon à bois
61
8
  Trompette [unit]
73
8
  Flûte harmonique *
61
4
  Clairon [ext.]
8
  Gambe [ext.]
    Tremblant  
4
  Prestant
61
    Clochettes  
4
  Flûte ouverte *
61
    Grande-Orgue 16'  
2 2/3
  Quinte
61
    Muet  
2
  Doublette
61
    Grande-Orgue 4'  
    Fourniture III-IV ranks
214
       
               
Récit espressif (Manual III) – 61 notes, enclosed (4" wind pressure) [as revised by Glück, 2010]
16
  Bourdon à cheminée [unit]
73
    Plein jeu III-V ranks #
227
8
  Principal
61
16
  Basson [ext.] #
12
8
  Viole de gambe
61
8
  Trompette
61
8
  Voix céleste
61
8
  Hautbois
61
8
  Flûte à cheminée [ext.]
8
  Clarinette *
61
8
  Flûte douce #
61
8
  Voix humaine
61
8
  Flûte céleste [TC] #
49
    Tremblant  
4
  Octave
61
    Récit 16'  
4
  Flûte harmonique #
61
    Muet
2
  Flûte conique #
61
    Récit 4'  
    Cornet II ranks
122
   
# new pipes (2010)
             
Positif Orgue (Manual I) – 61 notes (3½" wind pressure)
16
  Bourdon *
61
1
  Sifflet
61
8
  Principal conique
61
    Fourniture III-IV ranks
214
8
  Flûte couverte
61
    Cymbale III-IV ranks
213
8
  Salicional
61
16
  Douçaine [unit]
73
8
  Unda Maris II ranks *
110
8
  Trompette
61
4
  Prestant
61
8
  Cromorne [ext.]
4
  Flûte à fuseau
61
4
  Clairon
61
2 2/3
  Nasard *
61
    Tremblant  
2
  Doublette
61
    Positif 16'  
2
  Quarte de Nasard
61
    Muet  
1 3/5
  Tierce
61
    Positif 4'  
1 1/3
  Larigot
61
       
               
Solo Orgue (Manual IV) – 61 notes (10" wind pressure)
16
  Trompette séraphique [TC]
4
  Clairon séraphique [ext.]
8
  Trompette séraphique [unit]
73
    Cornet V ranks [TC]
245
               
Pédale Orgue – 32 notes
32
  Bourdon [1-12 digital ext.]
    Fourniture IV ranks
176
16
  Basse ouverte *
32
    Acuta IV ranks [fr. Fourniture]
16
  Soubasse [unit] *
44
    Cornet de Basson V ranks †
derived
16
  Montre [unit]
44
32
  Contre Bombarde [unit]
68
16
  Violon
G.O.
16
  Bombarde [ext.]
16
  Bourdon
POS
16
  Basson-Hautbois
REC
16
  Bourdon doux
REC
16
  Douçaine
POS
8
  Principalbasse [ext. Montre]
8
  Trompette [ext.]
8
  Flûte [ext. Soubasse]
8
  Trompette seraphique
SO
8
  Gambe
G.O.
4
  Hautbois
REC
8
  Bourdon doux
REC
4
  Clairon [ext.]
5 1/3
  Quinte
32
4
  Cromorne
POS
4
  Choralebasse +
32
    Tremblant (affects + stops)
4
  Flûte bouchée * + [unit]
44
   
later changed to Quinte 10-2/3
2
  Flûte bouchée + [ext.]
     
           
* retained from previous organs
Couplers
    Grande-Orgue à Pédale 8', 4'     Solo à Grande-Organ 8'
    Récit à Pédale 8', 4'     Grande-Orgue à Positif 8'
    Positif à Pédale 8', 4'     Récit à Positif 16', 8', 4'
    Récit à Grande-Orgue 16', 8', 4'     Solo à Positif 8'
    Positif à Grande-Orgue 16', 8', 4'      
               
Adjustable Combinations (Solid State – Quad Memory)
   
Grande-Orgue Pistons 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 (thumb)
Positif Pistons 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 (thumb)
Récit Pistons 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 (thumb)
Solo Pistons 1-2-3-4 (thumb)
Pédale Pistons 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 (thumb & toe)
General Pistons 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12 (thumb & toe)
  General Cancel (thumb)
  Combination Adjustor (thumb)
               
Reversibles
    Grande-Orgue à Pédale (thumb & toe)   Tutti (thumb & toe)
    Récit à Pédale (thumb & toe)   32' Flue (thumb & toe)
    Positif à Pédale (thumb & toe)   32' Reed (thumb & toe)
               
Expression
    Balanced Expression Pedal – Récit
    Balanced Crescendo Pedal with indicator light
               
Reuben Midmer & Son Organ Case (1915) in the Roman Catholic Church of St. Francis of Assisi - New York City (photo: Steven E. Lawson)   M. P. Möller Organ, Op. 11753 (1987) in the Roman Catholic Church of St. Francis of Assisi - New York City (Steven E. Lawson)
 
Kilgen Organ Company
St. Louis, Mo. – Opus 7579 (1951)
Electro-pneumatic action
3 manuals, 32 stops, 27 ranks


The Kilgen Organ Company of St. Louis, Mo., rebuilt the Midmer organ in 1951, retaining several Midmer ranks and the 1915 case.
               
Great Organ (Manual II) – 61 notes
8
  Diapason
61
4
  Flute Harmonic
61
8
  Doppel Flute
61
2
  Super Octave
61
8
  Gemshorn
61
8
  Tuba
61
4
  Octave
61
   
Chimes
25 tubes
               
Swell Organ (Manual III) – 61 notes, enclosed
8
  Diapason
73
4
  Waldflöte
73
8
  Gedeckt
73
2
  Flageolet
61
8
  Salicional
73
    Mixture, 3 ranks
183
8
  Voix Celeste [TC]
61
8
  Trumpet
73
4
  Principal
73
       
               
Choir Organ (Manual I) – 61 notes, enclosed
8
  Geigen Principal
73
4
  Fugara
73
8
  Concert Flute
73
2 2/3
  Rohr Nazard
61
8
  Dulciana
73
8
  Clarinet
73
8
  Unda Maris [TC]
61
    Chimes
GT
               
Pedal Organ – 32 notes
16
  Diapason
44
8
  Gedeckt
SW
16
  Bourdon
56
4
  Blockflöte [Bourdon]
16
  Lieblich Gedeckt [ext. SW]
12
16
  Trombone [ext. Tuba]
12
8
  Octave [Diapason]
8
  Tuba
GT
8
  Bass Flute [Bourdon]
       
 
Reuben Midmer & Son
Merrick, N.Y. (1915)
Electro-pneumatic action
3 manuals, 43 stops, 44 ranks


In 1915, the Odell organ from 1892 was replaced with a new 49-rank organ built by Reuben Midmer & Son of Merrick, N.Y. The following stoplist was published in The Diapason (Nov. 1, 1915), but pipecounts were not indicated; pipecounts indicated below are suggested, based on similar Reuben Midmer & Son organs of the era.
               
Great Organ (Manual II) – 61 notes
16
  Open Diapason
73
8
  Doppel Flöte
73
8
  Open Diapason
73
4
  Octave
73
8
  Open Diapason
73
4
  Flute Harmonique
73
8
  Viola di Gamba
73
2
  Super Octave
73
8
  Gemshorn
73
    Mixture III ranks
219
8
  Gross Flöte
73
8
  Trumpet
73
               
Swell Organ (Manual III) – 61 notes, enclosed
16
  Bourdon
73
4
  Principal
73
8
  Open Diapason
73
4
  Wald Flöte
73
8
  Salicional
73
2
  Flageolet
73
8
  Aeoline
73
    Dolce Cornet III ranks
219
8
  Viol d'Orchestre
73
8
  Cornopean
73
8
  Vox Celeste [TC]
61
8
  Orchestral Oboe
73
8
  Stopped Diapason
73
8
  Vox Humana
73
               
Choir Organ (Manual I) – 61 notes, enclosed
16
  Contra Gamba
73
8
  Quintadena
73
8
  Geigen Principal
73
4
  Fugara
73
8
  Dulciana
73
4
  Flute à Chiminée
73
8
  Unda Maris [TC]
61
8
  Clarinet
73
8
  Concert Flute
73
       
               
Pedal Organ – 32 notes
32
  Contra Bourdon
44
16
  Violone
44
16
  Open Diapason
44
8
  Flute [ext.]
16
  Bourdon
44
8
  Violoncello [ext.]
16
  Lieblich Gedeckt
SW
16
  Trombone
44
 
J.H. & C.S. Odell & Co.
New York City – Opus 302 (1892)
Unknown action


The original organ in the present church was built in 1892 by J.H. & C.S. Odell of New York City. It is possible that Odell incorporated or simply moved their Op. 120 organ from the previous church. Specifications of this organ have not yet been located.
 
Organ in the first church building:

J.H. & C.S. Odell & Co.
New York City – Opus 120 (1873)
Mechanical action
2 manuals, 20 stops, 22 ranks


The earliest known organ for St. Francis of Assisi Church was built in 1873 by the J.H. &. C.S. Odell Company of New York City. Odell's "Style G " specification was enlarged by the addition of an 8' Violoncello in the Pedal. A handwritten note states, "The key board to be extended from main organ in a strait [sic] line." The letter of agreement made on the 21st day of January, 1873, shows that this organ would be built for a consideration of $3,600.
               
Great Organ(Manual I) – 58 notes
8
  Open Diapason
58
4
  Wald Flute [TC]
46
8
  Keraulophon
58
2 2/3
  Twelfth
58
8
  Dulce [TC]
46
2
  Fifteenth
58
8
  Stopped Diapason, bass
12
    Mixture, 3 ranks
174
8
  Clarionet Flute, treble
46
8
  Trumpet [TC]
46
4
  Principal
58
       
               
Swell Organ (Manual II) – 58 notes, enclosed
16
  Bourdon, bass
12
2 2/3
  Twelfth
58
16
  Double Diapason, treble
46
2
  Piccolo
58
8
  Open Diapason
58
8
  Oboe [TC]
46
8
  Dulciana
46
8
  Bassoon, bass
12
8
  Stopped Diapason
58
    Tremulant  
4
  Violina
58
       

     

     
Pedal Organ – 25 notes
16
  Grand Double Open Diapason
25
       
8
  Violoncello
25
       
               
Couplers
    Patent Reversible Coupler       Great to Pedal  
    Swell to Great       Bellows Signal  
    Swell to Pedal          
               
Patent Pneumatic Compositions
1.
  Full Great Organ
2.
  Full to Principal
3.
  All of the eight feet stops
4.
  Keraulophon, Clarionet Flute and Dulce
5.
  Wald Flute and Clarionet Flute
6.
  Clarionet Flute and Dulce
7.
  Dulce
8.
  Wald Flute
 
Sources:
     Capitol Catholic blogspot: http://capitolcatholic.blogspot.com
     Dunlap, David W. From Abyssinian to Zion: A Guide to Manhattan's Houses of Worship. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004.
     "Midmer & Son Build Organ For New York," The Diapason (Nov. 1, 1915). Stoplist of Reuben Midmer & Son organ (1915). Courtesy Dave Schmauch.
     Nelson, George. Organs in the United States and Canada Database. Seattle, Wash.
     J.H. & C.S. Odell Company brochure (c.1905). Courtesy Larry Trupiano.
     "St. Francis of Assisi Church in New York Buys a Kilgen," The Diapason (March 1, 1952). Stoplist of Kilgen Organ Co. organ, Op. 7579. Courtesy Jeff Scofield.
     St. Francis of Assisi Church web site: http://www.stfrancisnyc.org
     Scofield, Jeff. Factory Specifications of M.P. Möller organ, Op. 11753 (1987).
     Trupiano, Larry. Factory Contract of J.H. & C.S. Odell Organ, Op. 120 (1873).

Illustrations:
     Capitol Catholic blogspot. Exterior. (credit: Michael)
     Lawson, Steven E. Photos of church interior; M.P. Möller Organ, Op. 11753 (1987).