St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church - New York City

 
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Church of St. John Nepomucene
(Roman Catholic)

411 East 66th Street at First Avenue
New York, N.Y. 10121
http://www.stjohnnepomucene.org


Organ Specifications:
411 East 66th Street at First Avenue (since 1925)
III/22 Kilgen Organ Company, Op. 7763 (1956)
• II/10 Alexander Mills – moved from old church?
350 East 57th Street, near First Avenue (1908-1925)
• II/10 Alexander Mills
289 East 4th Street, near Avenue C (1895-1908)
• unknown




St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church (East 4th Street, 1895-1908) - New York City  
East 4th Street (1895-1908)  
The first Slovak parish in New York was the Church of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, founded in 1891 and located on East 4th Street. Its pastor, Father Francis Dénes, tried to cater to both pro-Hungarian ("Magyarone") and anti-Hungarian Slovaks, but neither group was pleased. After a period of unrest in which small incidences could take on cosmic dimensions, Archbishop Corrigan allowed the Slovak nationalists to withdraw from the parish and organize the Church of St. John Nepomucene (Slovensky Kostol Sv. Jana Nepomuckeho) in a former synagogue a few doors away on the same street. The first Mass was offered on October 25, 1895, and the Rev. Francis Pribyl was the first Pastor. The life of the new Slovak Parish was beginning.

New ventures are always beset with difficulties, and St. John's was no exception. The scattered groups that comprised the parish, the poverty of the newly arrived immigrants, and the difficulty of obtaining a resident Slovak-speaking priest, caused slow growth of St. John's. During the first 13 years over 15 priests served the parish.

  St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church (East 57th Street, 1908-1925) - New York City
  East 57th Street (1908-1925)
With the pastorate of the Rev. Anthony Berhely in 1908, the parish began to move forward. Seeing the need of a larger and more centrally-located church, Pastor Berhely led the parish to purchase a synagogue—the former home to Congregations Adath Israel and Shaarey Beracha—on East 57th Street and renovate it for use as a church.

By the 1920s, the population was again moving further uptown and it seemed advisable to relocate the church. In addition, a larger church was needed. Property was purchased on First Avenue and 66th Street, and the present church, rectory, and school were built. Architect John V. Van Pelt designed the complex in the Romanesque style, mixing building materials randomly to create an unusual sense of antiquity. The new church was dedicated by Cardinal Hayes on May 30, 1925.

During World War II, St. John’s had over 800 men serving in the Armed Forces. Immediately after the war, St.John’s became a center for the aid to Slovaks displaced by the war in Europe.

St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church - New York City  
The beauty of St. John’s Church was enhanced by a new marble altar and baldachinno erected in 1956. At the same time, a new organ was installed to improve the liturgical services. All this is a beautiful tribute to the deep faith and generosity of the thousands of the faithful who regarded St. John’s as their Parish and Monsignor Krasula as their pastor for 52 years.

Today, St. John's Church is home to a diverse congregation, and confessions are heard in Slovak, English, Polish, Italian, and Russian.
   
 

Geo. Kilgen & Son Organ, Op. 7763 (1956) in St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church - New York City

Kilgen Organ Company
St. Louis, Mo. – Opus 7763 (1956)
Rebuilt by Meloni and Farrier (2009)
Electro-pneumatic action
3 manuals, 24 stops, 22 ranks


Geo. Kilgen & Son Organ, Op. 7763 (1956) in St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church - New York City  




The present organ in St. John's Church was built in 1956 by the Kilgen Organ Company of St. Louis. All of the organ's pipes are enclosed in expression chambers behind an oak screen that contains three flats (7-5-7) of non-speaking display pipes. A detached three-manual stop-key console controls the organ.

After more than fifty years of service, the organ was being cleaned and refurbished by Meloni & Farrier of Port Chester, N.Y. Completed in 2009, this work included the addition of a solid state combination action.
               
Great Organ (Manual II) – 61 notes, enclosed
8
  Diapason
61
4
  Principal
61
8
  Hohl Flute
61
2 2/3
  Twelfth
61
8
  Gemshorn
61
2
  Fifteenth
61

     

     
Swell Organ (Manual III) – 61 notes, enclosed
16
  Rohr Bourdon [unit] *
85
4
  Harmonic Flute
73
8
  Geigen Diapason
73
    Plein Jeu III ranks
183
8
  Rohr Flote
8
  Oboe
73
8
  Viole de Gambe
73
    Tremolo  
8
  Viole Celeste
73
   
* stop added (2009)

     

     
Choir Organ (Manual I) – 61 notes, enclosed
8
  Concert Flute
73
4
  Zart Floete
61
8
  Dulciana
73
2 2/3
  Nazard * [plays at 2' pitch]
61
8
  Unda Maris [TC]
61
 
  Tremolo  

     

     
Pedal Organ – 32 notes
16
  Major Bass
32
8
  Bass Flute [Bourdon]
16
  Bourdon [unit]
56
4
  Block Floete [Bourdon]
16
  Rohr Bourdon
SW
       
               
Couplers
    Great to Pedal 8', 4'   Swell to Choir 16', 8', 4'
    Swell to Pedal 8', 4'   Great 16', Unison Off, 4'
    Choir to Pedal 8'   Swell 16', Unison Off, 4'
    Swell to Great 16', 8', 4'   Choir 16', Unison Off, 4'
    Choir to Great 16', 8', 4'    
               
Adjustable Combinations (hold and set)
    Pistons No. 1-2-3-4-5-0 affecting Great and Pedal stops
    Pistons No. 1-2-3-4-5-0 affecting Swell and Pedal stops
    Pistons No. 1-2-3-4-5-0 affecting Choir and Pedal stops
    Pistons No. 1-2-3-4-5 affecting Full Organ
    General Cancellor  
    Pedal Cancel  
               
Pedal Movements
    Great Expression Pedal   Great to Pedal Reversible
    Swell Expression Pedal   Sforzando Reversible
    Choir Expression Pedal    
    Crescendo Pedal    
   
Alexander Mills
New York City
Mechanical action
2 manuals, 10 stops


The files of Louis F. Mohr & Co., an organ service concern in the area, contain a record (dated 1925) showing that St. John Nepomucene Church had a two-manual organ with 10 stops built by Alexander Mills. Unfortunately, Mohr did not indicate if the Mills organ was in the previous church on East 57th Street, or the present church on East 66th Street that opened in 1925. It may be that the Mills organ was moved from the 57th Street building, a former synagogue, or the organ was acquired second-hand. Alexander Mills (1824-1900), a native of Scotland, was active in New York City by 1850 until sometime after 1887.
   
Sources:
     Dunlap, David W. From Abyssinian to Zion: A Guide to Manhattan's Houses of Worship. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004.
     Meloni and Farrier web site: http://meloniandfarrier.com
     Mohr, Louis F. & Co. File from 1925 about Alexander Mills organ. Courtesy Larry Trupiano.
     St. John Nepomucene web site: http://www.stjohnnepomucene.org
     Shelley, Thomas J. The Bicentennial History of the Archdiocese of New York 1808-2008. Strasbourg: Éditions du Signe, 2007.

Illustrations:
     Meloni and Farrier web site. Rebuilt facade of Kilgen Organ Company organ, Op. 7763 (1956).
     St. John Nepomucene web site. 4th Street church; 57th Street church; exterior and interior of present church.