St. Malachy's Catholic Church ("The Actors' Chapel") - New York City (photo: Steven E. Lawson)
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Church of St. Malachy – "The Actors' Chapel"
(Roman Catholic)

239 West 49th Street
New York, N.Y. 10036
http://www.actorschapel.org/



Organ Specifications:
III/43 Aeolian-Skinner Organ Co., Op. 938 (1935); reb. Peragallo (2012)
• II/40 Allen Organ Company electronic (1990s) – Upper Church
• III/20 Geo. Kilgen & Son, Op. 4118 (1928) – Actors' Chapel
II/8 Estey Organ Company, Op. 2047 (1922) – Actors' Chapel
• II/~15 W.W. Kimball Co. (1910) – Upper Church




Church of St. Malachy - New York City (photo: Wurts Bros., ca.1910)  
Interior (ca. 1910)
 
The Roman Catholic parish of St. Malachy was established in 1902 to serve residents and workers in the western midtown area. On May 3, 1903, the cornerstone was laid for the basement church. Plans for the main church were filed in 1910 by Thomas J. Duff, who designed a Gothic structure of brick trimmed with limestone. For the first two decades, St. Malachy's service to its community was comparable to that of most other Catholic churches in New York City. Then, beginning around 1920, the Theatre District moved in. Suddenly, actors, dancers, musicians, craftsmen, and tourists were filling the seats, replacing the types of parishioners St. Malachy's had seen in previous years. Masses, confessions, missions were all rearranged to accommodate the rigors of theatre and nightclub schedules. And, finally, with the construction of the Actors' Chapel below the main church in 1920, St. Malachy's became famous as a haven of worship for the entertainment community.

  Rudolph Valentino's Funeral at St. Malachy's Catholic Church ("The Actors' Chapel") - New York City
  Rudolph Valentino's Funeral
St. Malachy's has been home to many notable actors: Douglas Fairbanks married Joan Crawford at St. Malachy's. Herb Shriner's children were baptized here. Thousands jammed West 49th Street outside the church in final tribute to Rudolph Valentino. George M. Cohan, Spencer Tracy, Perry Como, Irene Dunne, Hildegarde, Florence Henderson, Elaine Stritch, Lawrence Luckinbill, Rosiland Russell, Danny Thomas, Bob and Dolores Hope and Ricardo Montalban, all worshipped at St. Malachy's. Fred Allen, Don Ameche, Cyril Ritchard, Pat O'Brien and Jimmy Durante served many a mass.

As late as 1968, over 16,000 people attended St. Malachy's each month, and on opening nights many in show business came to light candles for the success of their shows. But sweeping changes to the area came again. Madison Square Garden moved away. The night clubs closed. Massage parlors, porn shops, prostitution and drugs moved in. The neighborhood became unstable. Theater people and tourists feared lingering in the area and stopped visiting St. Malachy's. Much of the parish's congregation moved away. Most who stayed were elderly and poor. Many were held virtually under siege in decaying single-room occupancy hotels and tenements with tubs in kitchens and shared bathrooms in hallways.

The church and its people were suffering, and vandalism and theft were weekly occurrences. But in 1976, Father George W. Moore was assigned to St. Malachy's and set in motion yet another wave of far-reaching change. A pastoral team concept was initiated, which included not only priests and sisters, but also a group of caring men and women of all faiths. Their mission was to renew the long tradition of St. Malachy's: ministering to people of the neighborhood and finding the answers to their needs. To this end, staff members actively participated in a variety of local and community organizations, including Community Boards 4 & 5, the Mayor's Midtown Citizens Committee, The Broadway Association, the League of American Theaters and Producers, the Theater Development Fund, Actor's Equity, 42nd Street Civic Association, 42nd Street Redevelopment Association and the Clinton Planning Council.

One of the outstanding accomplishments of their efforts was the 1977 establishment of Encore Community Services to serve the needs of senior citizens. Its simple purpose, to improve the quality of life of the elderly living in the Times Square/Clinton/Midtown communities, Encore provides seniors with healthy meals, shopping escorts and social events. St. Malachy's has become a well-known voice to our legislators not only on a local level, but city, state and federal levels as well. St. Malachy's commitment to the aging population has led to participation in the New York City Department of Aging, Council of Senior Centers and Services, the Clinton Advisory Council on the Aging, the Lower Westside Interagency Council on Aging, and the Boro-wide Interagency Council on the Aging.

 St. Malachy's Catholic Church ("The Actors' Chapel") - New York City (photo: Steven E. Lawson)  
At the June 17, 1991 meeting of The Broadway Association it was announced that Father Michael C. Crimmins was named pastor to St. Malachy's. Through his efforts a sale of the air rights above the church was arranged, bringing in the funds to accomplish the still sorely needed reparations to the church. A new roof, renovation of the interior, the cleaning of the exterior and rebuilding of the heating and air conditioning systems have brought back the physical plant of the church, making it both a comfortable and beautiful place in which to pray.
         
 
   
 
Aeolian-Skinner Organ Company, Inc.
Boston, Mass. – Opus 938 (1935)
Peragallo Pipe Organ Company
Paterson, N.J. (2012)
Electro-pneumatic action
3 manuals, 73 stops, 43 pipe ranks, 11 digital ranks



The organ in St. Malachy's Church was originally built in 1935 by the Aeolian-Skinner Organ Company of Boston for Hillside Presbyterian Church in Orange, N.J. As designed by G. Donald Harrison, tonal director and president of Aeolian-Skinner, the firm's Opus 938 had 39 stops and 36 ranks played from a three-manual drawknob console. In 2007, the organ became available and was removed to storage by the Pergallo Pipe Organ Company of Paterson, N.J.

As rebuilt by Peragallo in 2011–12, the instrument incorporates the restored Aeolian-Skinner pipes and chests, plus several additional ranks, all installed behind a new façade in the gallery. Peragallo also added a Chancel division with ten digital stops by Walker Technical Co. There are two consoles: a movable three-manual drawknob console usually positioned in the west aisle near the chancel, and a three-manual rocking-tablet console in the gallery.

This organ is known as the Paul Creston Memorial Organ, honoring the composer Paul Creston (1906–1985) who was organist at St. Malachy's from 1934–1967.

The inaugural concerts were given at 11 p.m. (post-theatre) on the four Fridays of October 2012. Presenting the concerts were organists Jon Johnson (Nashville), Michael Hey (New York City), Vince Carr (Newark), and Christa Miller (Houston).

Pipecounts below are suggested, pending information from the builder.
               
Great Organ (Manual II) – 61 notes
16
  Violone (façade)
73
  Fourniture IV ranks *
8
  First Diapason
61
8
  Actors' Trumpet
61
8
  Second Diapason
61
8
  Tromba
CH
8
  Doppel Flute
61
4
  Clarion
CH
8
  Violoncello [ext. 16']
°
Chimes
digital
4
  Octave
61
°
Cymbalstern
digital
4
  Harmonic Flute
61
°
Great 16
2 2/3
  Twelfth
61
°
Great Unison Off  
2
  Fifteenth
61
°
Great 16  
  Mixture IV ranks
244
 
* from Mixture IV, 8va higher
   
   
Swell Organ (Manual III) – 61 notes, enclosed
16
  Bourdon
73
16
  Fagotto
73
8
  Geigen
73
8
  Trumpet
73
8
  Stopped Diapason
73
8
  Oboe
73
8
  Viole d'Amour
73
8
  Vox Humana
73
8
  Voix Celeste
73
4
  Clarion
73
4
  Fugara
73
  Tremolo
4
  Flute Triangular
73
8
  Actors' Trumpet
GT
2 2/3
  Nazard
61
°
Swell 16
2
  Flautino
61
°
Swell Unison Off
1 3/5
  Tierce
61
°
Swell 4
  Mixture III ranks
183
     

     

     
Choir Organ (Manual I) – 61 notes, enclosed
16
  Contra Viole
73
8
  Cor Anglais
73
8
  Open Diapason
73
4
  Clarion [ext. Tromba]
8
  Concert Flute
73
  Tremolo
8
  Erzähler
73
8
  Actors' Trumpet
GT
8
  Erzähler Celeste [TC]
61
°
Harp
digital
4
  Flute Traverso
73
°
Celesta
digital
2
  Harmonic Piccolo
61
°
Choir 16  
8
  Tromba
73
°
Choir Unison Off  
8
  Clarinet
73
°
Choir 4  
               
Chancel Organ (floating) – 61 notes, expressive (digital stops by Walker Technical Co.)
8
  Diapason
digital
8
  Cor d'Amour
digital
8
  Bourdon
digital
  Tremolo
digital
8
  Gemshorn
digital
 
Chancel 4
digital
8
  Vox Angelorum II ranks
digital
    Chancel Pedal  
4
  Principal
digital
16
  Bourdon
digital
4
  Chimney Flute
digital
8
  Flute
digital

     

     
Pedal Organ – 32 notes
32
  Contre Bourdon [ext. 16']
digital
8
  Still Gedeckt
SW
32
  Contre Violone [ext. GT]
digital
4
  Flute [ext. 16' Bdn.]
digital
16
  Open Wood
44
32
  Contre Bombarde [ext. 16']
digital
16
  Diapason
digital
32
  Contre Fagotto [ext. SW]
digital
16
  Violone
GT
16
  Bombarde
digital
16
  Contra Viole
CH
16
  Fagotto
SW
16
  Bourdon
44
8
  Actors' Trumpet
GT
16
  Echo Lieblich
SW
8
  Tromba
CH
8
  Open Bass [ext. 16']
4
  Clarion
CH
8
  Flute [ext. 16' Bdn.]
°
Tower Carillon
digital
8
  Violoncello
GT
     
   
° on drawknob console: by rocking tablet on coupler rail
Couplers
    Great to Pedal 8, 4   Chancel to Great
    Swell to Pedal 8, 4   Swell to Choir 16, 8, 4
    Choir to Pedal 8, 4   Great to Choir
    Chancel to Pedal 8   Chancel to Choir
    Swell to Great 16, 8, 4   Choir to Swell
    Choir to Great 16, 8, 4   Chancel to Swell
               
Adjustable Combinations (250 Levels)
   
Swell Organ Pistons 1-2-3-4-5-6 (thumb)
Great Organ Pistons 1-2-3-4-5-6 (thumb)
Choir Organ Pistons 1-2-3-4-5-6 (thumb)
Chancel Organ Pistons 1-2-3 (thumb)
Pedal Organ Pistons 1-2-3-4 (thumb & toe)
General Pistons 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12 (thumb & toe) 13-14 (thumb)
  General Cancel (thumb)
  Setter (thumb)
               
Reversibles
    Swell to Pedal (thumb & toe)   Sforzando (thumb & toe with ind.)
    Great to Pedal (thumb & toe)   Cymbalstern (toe paddle)
    Choir to Pedal (thumb & toe)    
               
Accessories
    Swell MIDI 1 (thumb)   Memory Level Up (thumb)
    Swell MIDI 2 (thumb)   Memory Level Down (thumb)
    Great MIDI 1 (thumb)   Sequencer Next (2 thumb, 1 toe)
    Great MIDI 2 (thumb)   Sequencer Prev (1 thumb)
    Choir MIDI 1 (thumb)   MIDI Record/Playback
    Choir MIDI 2 (thumb)   Transposer
   

Pedal MIDI 1 (thumb)

   
    Pedal MIDI 2 (thumb)    
               
Expression
    Balanced Swell Pedal (with LED ribbon)   All Swells to Swell (keycheek)
    Balanced Choir Pedal (with LED ribbon)    
    Crescendo Pedal (with LED ribbon)    
           
  Allen electronic organ at St. Malachy's Catholic Church ("The Actors' Chapel") - New York City (photo: Steven E. Lawson)
Allen Organ Company
Macungie, Penn. (1990s)
Electronic tonal production
2 manuals, 40 stops


Sometime in the 1980s, an electronic Allen Organ was installed in the space to the left of the freestanding altar. The speakers, hidden by Gothic-style screens, were located on three shelves on the side wall of the expanded nave.
           
Organ installed in the Actors' Chapel, located below the main church:

Geo. Kilgen & Son
St. Louis, Mo. – Opus 4118 (1928)
Electro-pneumatic action
3 manuals, 20 stops


The organ in the Actors' Chapel was built in 1928 by the Geo. Kilgen & Son Company of St. Louis. Due to the large number of theatrical people who attended the actors' mass at 12:15 each Sunday, architect Robert J. Reiley designed a specially built concrete pit under the sidewalk and street that would contain the pipes and mechanism, and the organ was heard via tonal vents at the rear of the chapel. The walls and ceilings were covered with hard plaster treated acoustically.

On Sunday evening, May 5, 1929, the $12,800 organ was dedicated by Msgr. John P. Chidwick, pastor of St. Agnes Church, representing Cardinal Hayes. Following the blessing, a recital was given by Pietro Yon, organist of St. Patrick's Cathedral, who was joined by six soloists from the cathedral choir.

In 1977, the Actors' Chapel was remodeled as "Encore at St. Malachy's," a space decorated as a versatile clubroom for seniors. At this time, the organ loft was transformed into a library and reading room, and the under-sidewalk organ chests and pipes were eventually removed.

Specifications for this organ have not yet been located.
         
Organ installed in the Actors' Chapel, located below the main church:

Estey Organ Company
Brattleboro, Vt. – Opus 2047 (1922)
Electro-pneumatic action
2 manuals, 8 stops, 8 ranks


The first organ in the Actors' Chapel was built in 1922 by the Estey Organ Company. This organ was enclosed in Estey's "Case Design AA" and had bronzed front pipes. All of the pipes were in one enclosure. When the larger Kilgen organ was installed in 1928, the Estey organ was moved to another church.
               
Great Organ (Manual I) – 61 notes, enclosed
8
  Open Diapason [leathered]
61
8
  Melodia
61
8
  Dulciana
61
       
               
Swell Organ (Manual II) – 61 notes, enclosed
8
  Salicional
73
8
  Oboe [TC]
61
8
  Stopped Diapason
73
    Tremolo  
4
  Flute Harmonic
73
       
               
Pedal Organ – 32 notes
16
  Bourdon
32
       
               
Couplers
    Great to Pedal 8       Great to Great 4, Unison
    Swell to Pedal 8, 4       Swell to Swell 16, Unison, 4
    Swell to Great 16, 8, 4       Pedal Octaves  
               
Pedal Movements
    Balanced Swell Pedal   Great to Pedal Reversible
    Crescendo Pedal      
         
  W.W. Kimball organ (1910) in St. Malachy's Catholic Church ("The Actors' Chapel") - New York City (photo: Wurts Bros., 1910)
W. W. Kimball Company
Chicago, Ill. (1910)
Tubular-pneumatic action
2 manuals, about 15 stops


Console of W.W. Kimball Organ (1910) in St. Malachy's Catholic Church ("The Actors' Chapel") - New York City (photo: AJWB Collection)  
The original organ in St. Malachy's Church was built in 1910 by the W. W. Kimball Company of Chicago. Kimball installed the organ behind a façade in the rear gallery.

Specifications for this organ have not yet been located.
           
Sources:
     "Actors' Chapel Dedicated as Club for Aged," The New York Times (Nov. 2, 1977).
     "Carillon to Add A Happy Note At Show Times," The New York Times (Nov. 20, 1979).
     The Diapason (June 1929). Article on Geo. Kilgen & Son Organ, Op. 4118 (1928). Courtesy Jeff Scofield.
     Dunlap, David. From Abyssinian to Zion: A Guide to Manhattan's Houses of Worship. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004.
     Estey Organ Company Museum web site: http://www.esteyorgan.com/
     Lewis, James. Specifications of Estey Organ Company organ, Op. 2047 (1922).
     Nelson, George. Organs in the United States and Canada Database. Seattle, Wash.
     "The Remodeled Actors' Chapel," The New York Times (Dec. 7, 1930).
     St. Malachy Church web site: http://www.actorschapel.org/
     "St. Malachy's Church Dedicates New Organ," The New York Times (May 6, 1929).
     Shelley, Thomas J. The Bicentennial History of the Archdiocese of New York 1808-2008. Strasbourg: Éditions du Signe, 2007.

Illustrations:
     AJWB Collection. Console of W.W. Kimball Organ (1910).
     Lawson, Steven E. Exterior; interior; Allen Organ (1990s).
     Pacoe, Mark. Façade and gallery console of Aeolian-Skinner/Peragallo organ.
     Wurts Bros. (New York, N.Y.). Photos (ca.1910) of interior and rear gallery showing W.W. Kimball Organ (1910).