West Side Unitarian Church - New York City (1921 drawing)
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West Side Unitarian Church

550 West 110th Street, near Broadway
New York, N.Y. 10027


Organ Specifications:
550 West 110th Street near Broadway (1921-1931)
IV/42 M.P. Möller, Op. 4207 (1925)
221 Lenox Avenue at 121st Street (1891-1919)
II/12 Reuben Midmer & Sons
• II/10 Frank Roosevelt, Op. 508 (1891)
72 East 128th Street near Fourth Avenue (1886-1891)
• unknown


Ebenezer Gospel Tabernacle - New York City (photo: Steven E. Lawson)  
Lenox Avenue Unitarian Church (1891-1919)
 
The fifth Unitarian society in New York City was organized in March 1886 as the Unity Congregational Society. After meeting in various locations for several years, the society purchased property on the northwest corner of Lenox Avenue and 121st Street in Harlem. On this site the first church was built from 1889-91, and the society became familiarly known as Lenox Avenue Unitarian Church. Designed by Charles B. Atwood, architect of many Vanderbilt houses, the structure was in the Romanesque style but included Gothic details.

By 1919, membership in the Lenox Avenue society had declined substantially, due in part to the rapidly changing demographics of the neighborhood that caused many residents to move away. The building was sold to Congregation Chebra Ukadisha B'nai Israel (Holy Sons of Israel from Kalwarie, Lithuania), who remained until 1942, when it was acquired by the Ebenezer Baptist Tabernacle.

After leaving Lenox Avenue, the society met for many months in Earl Hall of Columbia University. In time, five lots were purchased on West 110th Street (Cathedral Parkway), east of Broadway, and ground was broken on October 28, 1921, for a new church designed by Hoppin & Koen that would cost $400,000. The Christian Register (June 16, 1921) described the new facility:
The Colonial meeting-house as planned will afford a new and interesting solution of the problem of the city church plant. On a frontage of 125 feet there will be erected a church and a parish house. The westerly 75 feet will be for the church building, and the rest for the parish house. The building will face north: consequently, the west will be to the right as one looks at the picture. [See upper right corner.] Architectural unity is achieved by a single dignified Colonial façade surmounted by a graceful cupola tower.
"The church auditorium will be on the street level, and with the galleries will seat six hundred people, all of whom will have an unimpeded view of the chancel. The seating capacity can be increased to one thousand by opening doors to another hall on the first floor of the parish house. ... Below the church auditorium there will be a large hall with adequate facilities for the social life of the church.

"The parish-house section will contain complete equipment for the church school, with a large assembly-room and separate class-rooms. There will be chapter-room for the Laymen's League, the Women's Alliance, and the Unity Club. A complete gymnasium including bowling-alleys is planned. Modern offices for the minister and assistants are to be located on the first floor, accessible both from the church and the parish house."

Unfortunately, the society experienced financial difficulties in its new location and the planned parish house was never built. With the onset of the Depression, the situation became dire and in Spring of 1931 the society began to meet with the Church of the Divine Paternity. Although the members contemplated a union (rather than a merger) with that society, plans did not materialize. In October 1931, the society agreed to merge with the much larger Community Church, located on 35th Street near Park Avenue.

The building on West 110th Street has been home to Congregation Ramath Orah since 1942.
         

M.P. Möller, Inc.
Hagerstown, Md. – Opus 4207 (1925)
Electro-pneumatic action
4 manuals, 90 registers, 56 stops, 42 ranks


The following specifications were recorded (c.1975) by Sebastian M. Glück, who noted that this organ was installed in side chambers and was playable from a theatre-style "horseshoe" console located in the front gallery. This organ was eventually parted-out and removed.

               
Great Organ (Manual II) – 61 notes, enclosed
16
  Diapason
61
    Great Unison Off  
8
  Diapason
61
    Great to Great 16'  
8
  Second Diapason
61
   
Great to Great 4'
 
8
  Clarabella
61
    Swell to Great 16'  
8
  Violoncello
61
    Swell to Great 8'  
4
  Octave
61
    Swell to Great 4'  
4
  Doppel Flute
61
    Choir to Great 16'  
2 2/3
  Twelfth
61
    Choir to Great 8'  
2
  Fifteenth
61
    Choir to Great 4'  
8
  Trumpet
61
    Solo to Great 16'  
   
Chimes
20 tubes
    Solo to Great 8'  
8
  Harp
CH
    Solo to Great 4'  
4
  Harp
CH
       
               
Swell Organ (Manual III) – 61 notes, enclosed
16
  Lieblich Gedeckt
73
    Mixture IIII ranks
183
8
  Diapason
73
16
  Contra Fagotto
73
8
  Bourdon
73
8
  French Horn
73
8
  Flauto Traverso
73
8
  Oboe
73
8
  Gamba
73
8
  Vox Humana
61
8
  Voix Celeste [TC]
61
    Swell Unison Off  
8
  Muted Viole
73
    Swell to Swell 16'  
8
  Muted Viole Celeste
73
    Swell to Swell 4'  
4
  Harmonic Flute
73
    Solo to Swell 8'  
1 3/5
  Tierce
61
       
 
     
 
     
Choir Organ (Manual I) – 61 notes, enclosed
8
  Violin Diapason
73
8
 
Concert Harp [TC]
61 bars
8
  Concert Flute
73
    Harp Dampers On and Off  
8
  Quintadena
73
    Choir Unison Off  
8
  Dulciana
73
    Choir to Choir 16'  
8
  Unda Maris
73
    Choir to Choir 4'  
4
  Wald Flute
73
    Swell to Choir 16'  
2
  Piccolo
61
    Swell to Choir 8'  
16
  English Horn [TC]
    Swell to Choir 4'  
8
  Clarinet
73
    Solo to Choir 8'  
8
  English Horn
73
       
               
Solo Organ (Manual IV) – 61 notes, enclosed
8
  Quintadena
CH
8
  English Horn
CH
8
  Dulciana
CH
8
  Trumpet
GT
8
  Unda Maris
CH
8
  Stentorphone [hi-press.]
61
8
  Diapason
GT
8
  Orchestral Oboe
61
8
  Clarabella
GT
8
  Tuba [hi-press.]
61
8
  Violoncello
GT
    Solo Unison Off  
16
  English Horn
CH
    Solo to Solo 16'  
8
  Clarinet
CH
    Solo to Solo 4'  
               
Pedal Organ – 32 notes
16
  Diapason
44
16
  Trombone [ext. SO Tuba]
12
16
  Bourdon
44
    Great to Pedal 8'  
16
  Lieblich Gedeckt
SW
    Swell to Pedal 8'  
16
  Violone
44
    Swell to Pedal 4'  
8
  Flute [ext. Diap.]
    Choir to Pedal 8'  
8
  Bourdon [ext.]
    Solo to Pedal 8'  
8
  Violoncello [ext.]
       
               
Adjustable Combinations
   
Solo Organ Pistons 1-2-3-4-5-6 (thumb)
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)
Pedal Organ Pistons 1-2-3-4-5 (thumb & toe)
Entire Organ Pistons 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 (thumb)
  General Cancel (thumb)
               
Accessories
    Great Expression Pedal   Great Organ Tremulant
    Swell Expression Pedal   Swell Organ Tremulant
    Choir Expression Pedal   Choir Organ Tremulant
    Solo Expression Pedal   Solo Organ Tremulant
    Register Crescendo Pedal   All Swells to Great Ped. Rev. (toe)
    Great to Pedal Reversible (toe)   Pedal Separation
    Sforzando Reversible (thumb & toe)   Pedal Divide
           

Organ in church on Lenox Avenue:

Reuben Midmer & Sons
Merrick, N.Y.
Electro-pneumatic action
2 manuals, 13 stops, 12 ranks


This organ is extant but unplayable.

               
Great Organ (Manual I) – 61 notes
8
  Open Diapason
61
8
  Melodia
61
8
  Dulciana
61
4
  Octave
61
 
     
 
     
Swell Organ (Manual II) – 61 notes, enclosed
8
  Violin Diapason
61
8
  Aeoline
61
8
  Stopped Diapason
61
4
  Flute Harmonique
61
8
  Salicional
61
8
  Oboe
61
8
  Vox Celeste
61
       
 
     
 
     
Pedal Organ – 32 notes
16
  Bourdon
44
       
8
  Flute
       
           
Organ in church on Lenox Avenue:

Frank Roosevelt
New York City – Opus 508 (1891)
Tracker-pneumatic action
2 manuals, 10 stops


The first organ in the original Lenox Avenue Unitarian Church was built in 1891 by Frank Roosevelt of New York City. Specifications of this organ have not yet been located.
 
Sources:
     "Building for Service," The Christian Register (June 16, 1921):570-71.
     "Church Dedication at Harlem," The New York Times (Nov. 5, 1869).
     "Community Church Agrees on Merger," The New York Times (Oct. 24, 1931).
     Dunlap, David W. From Abyssinian to Zion: A Guide to Manhattan's Houses of Worship. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004.
     "86, She Lays Cornerstone," The New York Times (Oct. 29, 1921).
     Glück, Sebastian. Specifications of M.P. Möller organ, Op. 4207 (1925).
     "Installing a Pastor," The New York Times (Dec. 28, 1887).
     "New Unitarian Society," The New York Times (Mar. 30, 1886).
     Stern, Robert A.M., Thomas Mellins, and David Fishman. New York 1880: Architecture and Urbanism in the Gilded Age. New York City: The Monacelli Press, 1999.
     New From the Field: New York. The Unitarian (Vol. I, July 1886):202.
     "Unitarians Open Church," The New York Times (June 11, 1922).

Illustrations:
     The Christian Register (June 16, 1921):570-71. Drawing (1921) by Hoppin & Koen Architects, New York City.
     Lenox Avenue Unitarian Church (c.1891). Courtesy New York Historical Society Collection.