St. Peter Lutheran Church
(Evangelical Lutheran Church in America)

619 Lexington Avenue at 54th Street
New York, N.Y. 10022
http://www.saintpeters.org

Organ Specifications:
619 Lexington Avenue at 54th Street (since 1903):
Present building (since 1977)
II/43 Johannes Klais Orgelbau (1977)
First building (1903-c.1970)
III/17 M.P. Möller, Inc., Op. 7626 (1948)
II/5 Welte Organ Co. (ca.1912) – Sunday School room
III/32 Eifert & Stoehr (1905)
474 Lexington Avenue at 45th Street (c.1871-1903):
• George Jardine & Son (1872)

See also the Continuo Organ in the Chapel.
 
St. Peter's Lutheran Church - New York City  
St. Peter's Church (c.1871-1903)  
Since its founding on June 2, 1862, as the Deutsche Evangelische Lutherische Sanct Petri-Kirche by a group of German immigrants, St. Peter's has faithfully served the midtown Manhattan area. Worship services in the German language began in a loft above a feed and grocery store at the corner of 49th Street and Lexington Avenue. By the 1890s, it became apparent that English services were required. During its first ten years, parish growth required several moves to larger quarters, eventually purchasing the former Lexington Avenue Presbyterian Church at the corner of 45th Street and Lexington Avenue. St. Peter's remained at this location until being uprooted by the construction of Grand Central Terminal.

  St. Peter's Lutheran Church (1905-1974)
  St. Peter's Church (1903-1970)
The building was sold to the New York Central Railroad in 1903 for $200,000, with the proceeds going toward the construction of a new Gothic-style church at 54th Street and Lexington Avenue. The new church was dedicated on May 14, 1905, and was typical of Lutheran church design of the time. Carved wooden sculptures, altar and pulpit dominated the chancel with a mural of the Sermon on the Mount above the altar, and glorious stained glass windows pictured scenes from the life of Jesus. In the balcony was space for a three-manual organ, the choir and the overflow crowds. By the 1920s, German services no longer predominated and English was adopted for morning worship. In 1925 the legal name of the parish was changed to "Saint Peter's Lutheran Church of Manhattan."

St. Peter's Lutheran Church - New York City  
By 1960, congregations in New York City were dwindling and St. Peter's was no exception. Rather than flee to the suburbs, the congregation of St. Peter's decided to affirm human life amidst the skyscrapers and develop a ministry that would serve more than just a Sunday congregation. A renewal of liturgical life unfolded and new programs in jazz, drama and the arts were developed. John Garcia Gensel joined the staff as the first pastor to the jazz community.

In 1970, the First National City Bank (later known as Citibank) purchased the property for $9 million and agreed to build a new church next to its 59-story office tower. Hugh Stubbins & Associates designed both the tower and church, and Vignelli Associates designed the church interior. Stubbins described the church as two hands held up in prayer with light coming in between them." Consecrated in 1977, the church is a flexible space allowing for a great variety of expressions of worship through liturgy, song, sermon, dance, music and poetry.
           

Klais Organ (1977) in St. Peter's Lutheran Church - New York City (Photo: Steven E. Lawson)

Click on images to enlarge
Johannes Klais Orgelbau GmbH
Bonn, Germany (1977)
Mechanical key action
Electro-mechanical stop action
Solid state combination action
2 manuals, 32 stops, 43 ranks


The organ, built by Johannes Klais of Bonn, Germany, is designed to be a work of art designed visually and tonally to fit the sanctuary. The free-standing case, designed by Joseph Schafer, is of red oak. It is 18 feet square, 4 feet deep and is set at a 45 degree angle to the walls of the sanctuary. After 20 years of continuous use, the organ was cleaned and revoiced in 2000 by its builder, Klais Orgelbau. At that time, the Principal 16' stop on the pedal was strengthened, a 599-level computerized combination action was installed, and a Cymbelstern of eight tuned brass bells was added.
               
Great Organ (Manual I) – 58 notes (2½" wind pressure)
16
  Pommer
58
2
  Superoctave
58
8
  Principal
58
1 3/5
  Terz
58
8
  Rohrgedackt
58
1
  Sifflet
58
8
  Gemshorn
58
1 1/3
  Mixtur V fach
290
4
  Octave
58
8
  Trompete
58
4
  Traversflöte
58
 
  Tremulant  
2 2/3
  Quinte
58
       
               
Swell Organ (Manual II) – 58 notes, enclosed (2½" wind pressure)
8
  Bourdon
58
1 1/3
  Larigot
58
8
  Gamba
58
2 2/3
  Sesquialtera II fach
116
8
  Schwebung [TG]
39
1
  Scharff IV fach
232
4
  Principal
58
16
  Dulcian
58
4
  Rohrflöte
58
8
  Cromorne
58
2
  Waldflöte
58
    Tremulant  

     

     
Pedal Organ – 32 notes (3" wind pressure)
16
  Principal
32
2 2/3
  Hintersatz IV fach
128
16
  Subbass
32
16
  Posaune
32
8
  Octave
32
8
  Holztrompete
32
8
  Spielflöte
32
4
  Schalmey
32
4
  Superoctave
32
 
     
             
Couplers
    Swell to Great    
    Great to Pedal    
    Swell to Pedal    

 

   
Adjustable Combinations (599 memory levels)
    Generals A-B-C-D-E-F-G-H (thumb & toe)
               
Mechanicals & Accessories
    Balanced Swell Pedal (mechanical)  
Cymbelstern (toe)
8 tuned bells
    Great to Pedal Reversible (thumb & toe)   Birdsong (tablet in left key cheek)
    Swell to Pedal Reversible (thumb & toe)   Sequencer Next (thumb & 2 toes)
    Sforzando Reversible (thumb & toe)   Sequencer Prev (thumb & toe)
               
Klais Organ (1977) in St. Peter's Lutheran Church - New York City (Photo: Steven E. Lawson)
Klais Organ (1977) in St. Peter's Lutheran Church - New York City (Photo: Steven E. Lawson)
Klais Organ (1977) in St. Peter's Lutheran Church - New York City (Photo: Steven E. Lawson)
           
M.P. Möller, Inc.
Hagerstown, Md. – Opus 7626 (1948)
Electro-pneumatic action
3 manuals, 28 stops, 17 ranks


In 1943, it was decided to rebuild the organ as a memorial to "the beloved friend and Pastor, Dr. Alfred Moldenke." Funds were raised by the congregation and the new instrument was built by M. P. Möller of Hagerstown, Maryland, at a cost of $17,000. The new organ was dedicated on Sunday, October 31, 1948, with Dr. Helen A. Dickinson giving the address, and with Mr. August Hartung (organist and choir director for 37 years) and Mr. John Davis at the console. A set of Deagan Chimes was added in 1950, a gift of Miss Ernestine Durr in honor of her mother, and in 1962, 1963, 1964, and 1965, she had additional ranks of pipes installed as memorials to her father. Following is the stoplist from the 1948 dedication program.
               
Great Organ (Manual II) – 61 notes, enclosed
8
  Diapason
61
4
  Octave
61
8
  Melodia
61
2
  Fifteenth
61
8
  Gemshorn
61
    Tremolo  
               
Swell Organ (Manual III) – 61 notes, enclosed
16
  Bourdon [unit]
97
4
  Flute d'Amour
8
  Diapason
73
2 2/3
  Nazard
8
  Gedeckt
2
  Flautino
8
  Salicional
73
8
  Trumpet
73
8
  Voix Celeste [TC]
61
    Tremolo  
4
  Principal
73
       
               
Choir Organ (Manual I) – 61 notes, enclosed
8
  Melodia
73
4
  Rohrflöte
73
8
  Gemshorn
73
8
  Clarinet
73
8
  Gemshorn Celeste [TC]
61
    [Tremolo]  
               
Pedal Organ – 32 notes
16
  Diapason [ext. GT]
12
8
  Principal
GT
16
  Bourdon
32
8
  Flute [ext.]
12
16
  Gemshorn [ext. CH]
12
8
  Flauto Dolce
SW
16
  Lieblich Gedeckt
SW
4
  Lieblich Flute
SW
           
W.W. Kimball Co.
Chicago, Ill. (c.1929)
Electro-pneumatic action
3 manuals, 21 stops, 20 ranks
               
Great Organ (Manual II) – 61 notes, probably enclosed with Choir
8
  Diapason
61
4
  Octave
61
8
  Concert Flute
61
   
Chimes
20 bells
8
  Gemshorn
61
       
               
Swell Organ (Manual III) – 61 notes, enclosed
8
  Diapason
73
4
  Flauto d'Amore
73
8
  Gedeckt
73
    Mixture III ranks
183
8
  Salicional
73
8
  Cornopean
73
8
  Voix Celeste [TC]
61
8
  Vox Humana
61
               
Choir Organ (Manual I) – 61 notes, enclosed
8
  Melodia
73
8
  Clarinet
73
8
  Dulciana
73
   
Harp
49 bars
4
  Flute a Cheminee
61
    Celesta  
               
Pedal Organ – 32 notes
32
  Resultant
8
  Flute [Diaphone]
16
  Diaphone
44
8
  Flute [Bourdon]
16
  Bourdon
44
       
           
Welte Organ Company
New York City (c.1912)
Electro-pneumatic action?
2 manuals, 15 registers, 5 ranks


The church history of 1912 records, "We built in the Sunday room a magnificent organ with 15 speaking registers and two manuals, in memory of a daughter of our Church, viz. Mrs. Marie Hubschmitt, born Poetebaum, who left her fortune to our church after the deduction of a few legacies. Another small parlor [reed?] organ is located in the Parish House, in memory of Therese Sommer who went down on the steamer Burgoyne; she was a daughter of our church."

Specifications for this organ have not yet been located.
           
  Eifert & Stoehr organ (1905) at St. Peter's Lutheran Church - New York City (Courtesy St. Peter's Lutheran)
Eifert & Stoehr
Steinway, Long Island (1905)
Mechanical key action
Pneumatic stop action
3 manuals, 30 stops, 32 ranks, 1,838 pipes




In 1905, a used three-manual organ with 31 speaking registers was installed in the church balcony. The organ was built by "the well known and trusted company of Eifert & Stoehr, of Steinway, Long Island" (Astoria, Queens) who were members of St. Peter's.
 

Details of Construction.

        The organ was built about 10 years ago for a large Music Room and was lately sold at auction. It is well constructed and up to date, but not all the stops were put in: these will be added, the entire choir organ will be new, the key action is mechanical: but a set of pneumatics will give an easy touch when the full organ is used.

          The draw stops are worked by pneumatics.
          The key boards are all modern.
          The bellows is made with three feeders attached to crank shaft, hand or motor power can be used: an extra regulator and reservoir bellows is in the organ.
          This organ can be put in church complete, except case and motor, for Twenty-eight hundred ($2800.) dollars. Fully guaranteed.
          Dimensions: 16 feet wide, 12 feet deep, 18 to 20 feet high.
               
Great Organ (Manual II) – 61 notes
16
  Bourdon
61
4
  Concert Flute
61
8
  Open Diapason
61
3
  Octave Quint
61
8
  Viola
61
2
  Super Octave
61
8
  Melodia
61
    Mixture, 3 ranks
183
4
  Principal
61
8
  Trumpet
61
               
Swell Organ (Manual III) – 61 notes, enclosed
16
  Bourdon Bass
12
4
  Violino
61
16
  Bourdon Treble [TC]
49
2
  Flautina
61
8
  Violin Diapason
61
8
  Aeoline
61
8
  Salicional
61
8
  Vox Celeste
61
8
  Clarionet Flute
61
8
  Oboe
61
4
  Flauto Traverso
61
8
  Cornopean
61
               
Choir Organ (Manual I) – 61 notes
8
  Geigen Principal
61
4
  Flute d'Amour
61
8
  Dolce
61
2
  Fifteenth
61
8
  Clarabella
61
8
  Clarinet [TC]
49
               
Pedal Organ – 27 notes
16
  Double Open Diapason
27
8
  Violincello
27
16
  Bourdon
27
       
               
Couplers Piston between Keys

    Swell to Great Organ.     Swell to Pedal.
    Swell to Choir Organ.     Great to Pedal.
    Choir to Great Organ.     Choir to Pedal.
               
Pedal Movements

    Forte to Great Organ.     Forte to Swell Organ.
    Mezzo to Great Organ.     Mezzo to Swell Organ.
    Piano to Great Organ.     Piano to Swell Organ.
    Balanced Swell Pedal.        
               
Mechanical Accessories

    Tremolo to Swell Organ.   Bellows Signal.
    Tremolo to Choir Organ.   Wind Indicator.
           
George Jardine & Son
New York City (1872)
Mechanical action


Church records state that in March 1872, a new organ was purchased from the well-known organ builder, Jardine & Son at a cost of $3,500, with the old one given as a trade-in. Funds for the organ were "partly collected, partly received from two great organ concerts and finally in part from a lecture given by the Pastor at the Cooper Institute." This organ was installed in the church located at 474 Lexington Avenue.

Specifications for this organ have not yet been located.
           
Sources:
     Dunlap, David W. From Abyssinian to Zion: A Guide to Manhattan's Houses of Worship. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004.
     Fox, David H. A Guide to North American Organbuilders (rev. ed.). Richmond: Organ Historical Society, 1997.
     Nelson, George. Organs of the United States and Canada Database. Seattle, Wash.
     St. Peter's Lutheran Church archives. Courtesy Sam Hutcheson.
     St. Peter's Lutheran Church web site: www.saintpeters.org.

Photos:
     Lawson, Steven E. Color exterior and interior; Johannes Klais organ.
     New York Architecture Images web site: www.nyc-architecture.com