Church of the Holy Communion - New York City
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Church of the Holy Communion
(Episcopal)

47 West 20th Street at Sixth Avenue
New York, N.Y. 10016

Organ Specifications:
III/39 Schantz Organ Company, Op. 1200 (1972)
IV/36 Skinner Organ Company, Op. 185-A (1926)
IV/29 Skinner Organ Company, Op. 185 (1910)
• II/28 Frank Roosevelt, Op. 493 (1891)
II/28 Hilborne L. Roosevelt, Op. 1 (1873)
• II/22 Hall & Labagh (1846)


The Protestant Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion was founded in 1844 by Rev. William Augustus Muhlenberg (1796-1877), a clergyman who would later be called "a living epitome" of the Episcopal Church's history. A native of Philadelphia, Dr. Muhlenberg established St. Paul's College in Flushing, L.I., an institution he had founded in 1828 and would lead for nearly twenty years. He possessed a keen sense of social responsibility at a time when the Episcopal Church was not yet involved. Following the death of his brother-in-law, John Rogers, whose dying wish was to establish a house of God "where rich and poor might meet together," his sister, Anna C. Rogers, financed the new church as a memorial to her husband.

Land was procured on the northeast corner of Sixth Avenue and West 20th Street, at that time a second-rate residential district surrounded by fields. On July 25, 1844, the cornerstone was laid for a church designed by Richard Upjohn and built from 1844-1846. Upjohn's small building resembled a small medieval English parish church and was noted for being the first asymmetrical rustic Gothic Revival edifice in the United States, a design that would be copied by many churches throughout the country. Dr. Muhlenberg, a leader in the evangelical Catholic movement of the Episcopal Church, was closely involved with the design, suggesting the use of transepts and other features that were more typical of Roman Catholic churches. The completed church was consecrated on December 13, 1846. Upjohn would add a rectory and parish house in 1850, and the Sisters' House in 1853.

The Church of the Holy Communion was the first church in New York to have free pews. It was also one of the first to have weekly communion services. Its sisterhood of women church works, begun in 1852, opened new fields of church social ministry for women. In 1883, the church hosted the first convention of black Episcopal clergymen.

By the mid-20th century, the area around the church had become highly industrialized and the congregation decreased in size and wealth. In 1966, through the efforts of its rector, the Church of the Holy Communion (Episcopal) Complex was designated a landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. In 1976, the dwindling congregations of Calvary, Holy Communion, and St. George's churches were combined, after which Holy Communion's building was vacated and deconsecrated. The building was then used as a drug-rehabilitation center by the Odyssey Institute. In 1980, the building complex was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

In 1983, Odyssey sold the building to Peter Gatien, who transformed the buildings into the infamous Limelight disco. After being linked with widespread drug trafficking, the Limelight was closed in 1996. The club was reopened in 2002 as Avalon, but that effort was short-lived. In 2010, the building was again transformed, this time into a shopping mall.
           
  Schantz Organ, Op. 1200 (1972) in Holy Communion Episcopal Church - New York City
Schantz Organ Company
Orrville, Ohio – Opus 1200 (1972)
Electro-pneumatic action
3 manuals, 39 stops, 39 ranks



In 1972, the Schantz Organ Company was selected to build an entirely new three-manual organ for Church of the Holy Communion. Schantz installed the organ in the chancel chamber formerly occupied by the 1926 Skinner organ. When the church was slated to be closed, the Schantz organ was moved to St. Aeden's Roman Catholic Church in Jersey City, N.J.
               
Great Organ (Manual II) – 61 notes
16
  Quintaton
61
4
  Octave
61
8
  Principal
61
2
  Super Octave
61
8
  Bourdon
61
    Fourniture IV ranks
244

     

     
Swell Organ (Manual III) – 61 notes, enclosed
16
  Rohrflöte
61
1 3/5
  Tierce
61
8
  Viola
61
    Plein Jeu IV ranks
244
8
  Viola Celeste
61
16
  Contra Fagotto [unit]
73
4
  Principal
61
8
  Trompette
61
4
  Koppelflöte
61
8
  Fagotto [ext.]
2 2/3
  Nasard [TC]
49
4
  Clairon
61
2
  Waldflöte
61
    Tremulant  
               
Choir Organ (Manual I) – 61 notes, enclosed
8
  Holzflöte
61
2
  Principal
61
8
  Flauto Dolce
61
1 1/3
  Larigot
61
8
  Flute Celeste [TC]
49
8
  Cromorne
61
4
  Gemshorn
61
    Tremulant  
               
Pedal Organ – 32 notes
32
  Resultant
4
  Gedackt [ext.]
16
  Principal
32
2
  Gedackt [ext.]
16
  Subbass
32
    Mixture III ranks
96
16
  Quintaton
GT
16
  Posaune
32
8
  Octave [unit]
44
16
  Contra Fagotto
SW
8
  Gedackt [unit]
56
4
  Fagotto
SW
4
  Choralbass [ext.]
       
               
Couplers
    "Standard couplers less Gt to Gt 16' "
           
  1946 photo of interior of Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion - New York City (Episcopal Diocese of New York Archives)
Skinner Organ Company
Boston, Mass. – Opus 185-A (1926)
Electro-pneumatic action
4 manuals, 52 stops, 36 ranks, 2,224 pipes



In 1926, the Skinner Organ Company returned to rebuild their Op. 185 from 1911, under the supervision of Lynnwood Farnam, organist of the church. In 1928, Mr. Farnam presented 40 recitals in twenty programs of the complete organ works of J.S. Bach.
               
Great Organ (Manual II) – 61 notes
16
  Bourdon [ext. PED]
17
8
  Erzahler
61
8
  Diapason One
61
4
  Octave
61
8
  Diapason Two
61
4
  Flute
61
8
  Philomela
PED
2
  Fifteenth
61
8
  Soft Flute
61
8
  Tuba
SO

     

     
Swell Organ (Manual III) – 61 notes, enclosed
16
  Bourdon
61
1 3/5
  Tierce *
58
8
  Gedeckt
61
    Mixture III ranks
183
8
  Gamba
73
16
  English Horn [TC]
49
8
  Salicional
73
8
  Cornopean
61
8
  Voix Celeste [TC]
61
8
  Oboe
61
8
  Echo Dulcet
61
8
  Vox Humana
61
8
  Spitzfloete
61
    Tremulant  
4
  Flute
61
   
* notes 1-33 are 2' pitch
               
Choir Organ (Manual I) – 61 notes, enclosed
16
  Gamba
61
8
  Clarinet
61
8
  Concert Flute
61
    Tremulant  
8
  Quintadena
61
   
Harp
61 bars
8
  Unda Maris II ranks
110
    Blank  
1 1/3
  Larigot
61
    Blank  
               
Solo Organ (Manual IV) – 61 notes, enclosed
8
  Philomela
PED
    Blank  
16
  Ophicleide **
61
    Blank  
8
  Tuba **
61
    Blank  
4
  Clarion **
61
   
** enclosed in Choir

     

     
Pedal Organ – 32 notes
16
  Open Wood [unit]
44
32
  Bombarde ++
4
16
  Pedal Pipes +
6
16
  Ophicleide
SO
16
  Bourdon [unit]
56
8
  Tuba
SO
16
  Second Bourdon
SW
4
  Clarion
SO
16
  Gamba
CH
       
8
  Octave
   
+ CCC, CCC#, DDD, DDD#, EEE, AAA
8
  Gedeckt
   
++ GGGG, AAAA, AAAA#, BBBB
8
  Cello
CH
       
4
  Bourdon
       
               
From The American Organist (January 1931):
The organ was originally installed in 1911 with 29 ranks, a rebuild of the church's Roosevelt.  Following are notes by the church's organist, Lynnwood Farnam, on some of the changes in the 1928 work:
     
1.
  The Pedal Pipes stop was added in the north transept in 1928 as a "booster" for certain pipes of the Pedal Open Wood, whose effect in the church is weak.
 
2.
  Pedal Bourdon 4' (formerly Quint 10 2/3') rewired to its present most useful purpose in 1925.
 
3.
  The four Bombarde pipes in the north transept, added in February 1929, in place of the four Bourdon 32' pipes.
 
4.
  Great Fifteenth 2' added December 1928, the pipes and chest being the gift of Mr. William H. Barnes of Chicago.
 
5.
  Swell Gamba replaced Diapason in 1924.
 
6.
  Swell Echo Dulcet added in 1928.
 
7.
  Swell Tierce (formerly Flautino 2') transposed pipes in treble.
 
8.
  Choir Larigot (formerly Piccolo 2') transposed pipes in treble.
 
9.
  All pistons move registers, excepting Great 5, 6, 7, which are adjustable at switch-board.
 
10.
  Crescendo pedal gives a moderate full combination without manual 16' tone.
 
11.
  The 16' tone on "Sforzando" pedal is provided by the coupler 16' Swell to Great, none of the straight 16' manual stops being included.
           
Skinner Organ Company
Boston, Mass. – Opus 185 (1910)
Electro-pneumatic action
4 manuals, 45 stops, 29 ranks


In 1910, the Skinner Organ Company rebuilt the 1891 two-manual Roosevelt organ, enlarging it to four manuals and a total of 29 ranks, with preparations for many additional ranks.
               
Great Organ (Manual II) – 61 notes
16
  Bourdon [ext. PED]
17
8
 
Erzahler
preparation
8
  First Diapason
61
4
  Octave
61
8
  Second Diapason
61
4
  Flute
61
8
  Philomela
61
   
Mixture III ranks
preparation
8
  Soft Flute
61
8
  Tuba
61

     

     
Swell Organ (Manual III) – 61 notes, enclosed
16
  Bourdon
61
   
Mixture IV ranks
preparation
8
  Diapason
61
16
  Horn [TC, 1-12 prep.]
49
8
  Spitz Flute
61
8
  Cornopean
61
8
  Gedackt
61
8
 
Oboe
preparation
8
  Salicional
61
4
 
Clarion
preparation
8
  Voix Celestes II ranks
122
8
  Vox Humana [old type]
61
4
  Flute
61
    Tremolo  
2
  Flautino
61
       
               
Choir Organ (Manual I) – 61 notes, enclosed
16
  Gamba
61
2
 
Piccolo
preparation
8
  Concert Flute
61
8
  Clarinet
61
8
 
Dulcet II ranks
preparation
8
  Orchestral Oboe
61
8
  Quintadena
61
    Tremolo  
8
  Unda Maris II ranks
122
   
Harp
49 bars
4
  Flute
61
       
               
Solo Organ (Manual IV) – 61 notes, enclosed with Choir
8
  Philomela
GT
8
  Orchestral Oboe
CH
8
  Concert Flute
CH
16
  Ophecleide
85
4
  Flute
CH
8
  Tuba [Ophecleide]
8
  Clarinet
CH
4
  Clarion [Ophecleide]

     

     
Pedal Organ – 32 notes ("Augmented")
32
 
Bourdon
preparation
8
  Octave [ext.]
16
  Diapason [unit]
44
8
  Gedackt [ext.]
16
  First Bourdon [unit]
44
8
  'Cello
CH
16
  Second Bourdon
SW
16
  Ophecleide
SO
16
  Gamba
CH
8
  Tuba
SO
10 2/3
  Quinte [ext.]
4
  Clarion
SO
               
Couplers
    Swell to Pedal 8', 4'   Solo to Great
    Great to Pedal 8'   Swell to Choir
    Choir to Pedal 8', 4'   Solo to Choir
    Solo to Pedal 8', 4'   Swell to Swell 16', 4'
    Swell to Great 16', 8', 4'   Choir to Choir 16', 4'
    Choir to Great 16', 8'    
               
Adjustable Combinations ("Visibly Operating the Draw Stop Knobs, and adjustable at Console.")
   
Swell Organ 1-2-3-4-5-6 (thumb)
Great Organ 1-2-3-4 (thumb)
Choir Organ 1-2-3-4-5 (thumb)
Solo Organ 1-2-3-4 (thumb)
Entire Organ 1-2-3-4 (toe) Fixed Manual and Pedal Combinations
               
Pedal Movements
    Balanced Swell Pedal     Solo to Pedal Reversible (toe)
    Balanced Choir & Solo Pedal     Great to Pedal Reversible (toe)
    Balanced Crescendo     Swell to Pedal Reversible (toe)
    Sforzando (toe)     Choir to Pedal Reversible (toe)
           
  1946 photo of interior of Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion - New York City  (Episcopal Diocese of New York Archives)
Frank Roosevelt
New York City – Opus 493 (1891)
Electro-pneumatic action
2 manuals, 28 ranks




In 1891, Frank Roosevelt rebuilt his brother's Opus 1 organ. Specifications for this organ have not yet been located.
           
Hilborne L. Roosevelt
New York City – Opus 1 (1873)
Tracker-pneumatic action
2 manuals, 30 stops, 28 ranks


Hilborne L. Roosevelt's first organ was built in 1873 for the Church of the Holy Communion, of which his family were members. The following description is from the contract:
     The Pneumatic Lever is applied to Great, Swell and Couplers. The Twelfth, Fifteenth, Mixture, Trumpet and Clarion of the Great stand in the Swell Box.
     It has been the object of the builder to endeavor to combine in this instrument, the best points in the English, French, and German Schools of Organ Building. The "Sound Boards" and "Combination Pedals" are constructed on Walker's principles.
     The "Regulator" for supplying a steady pressure of wind; and the more extensive use of metal in the construction of the "Action" are of French origin; as are also the "Reed Stops."
     The "Diapasons" are of the English School.
     Among the novelties introduced, the most curious is the "Electro-Melody" Organ—(an invention of the builder)—which is especially useful in leading congregational singing, as the Melody of the Upper Note is heard above the rest of the harmony. Most novel Crescendo and Diminuendo effects are produced by the used of the "Balanced Swell Pedal."
     Especial attention is called to the "Pneumatic Action" of this organ, which renders the touch, even with all the "Couplers" drawn, as light as that of a Pinao, though some of the pipes are forty feet from the keys.
     The builder has endeavored to give to each stop a decided character of tone. Pure Tin is used in the "Reeds" and "Gambas."
     The entire interior is finished in varnish, which not only addes to its appearance, but serves to protect it to a great extent from the action of the weather. The Case and Decorations were designed by Mr. Robert H. Robertson, No. 56 Wall Street.
               
Great Organ (Manual I) – 58 notes, partially enclosed with Swell
16
  Open Diapason
58
2 2/3
  Twelfth *
58
8
  Open Diapason
58
2
  Fifteenth *
58
8
  Dulciana
58
   
Mixture, 4 ranks
232
8
  Rohrflöte
58
8
  Trumpet *
58
8
  Gamba
58
4
  Clarion *
58
4
  Principal
58
       
4
  Harmonic Flute
58
   
* enclosed with Swell
               
Electro-Melody Organ (Manual I) – affecting selected stops of Great Organ
8
  Open Diapason  
2
  Fifteenth  
8
  Gamba  
8
  Trumpet  
4
  Flute          

     

     
Swell Organ (Manual II) – 58 notes, enclosed
8
  Open Diapason
58
4
  Principal
58
8
  Keraulophon
58
2
  Flageolet
58
8
  Stopped Diapason
58
8
  Trumpet
58
8
  Harmonica
58
8
  Oboe
58

     

     
Pedal Organ – 27 notes
16
  Open Diapason
27
8
  Violoncello
27
16
  Bourdon
27
4
  Principal
27
16
  Contrebass
27
       
               
Couplers
    Great to Pedal   Swell to Great
    Swell to Pedal   Great Octaves on itself
               
Pedal Movements
    Full Organ Combination       Full Swell Combination  
    Full Great Combination       Mezzo Swell Combination  
    Mezzo Great Combination       Balanced Swell Pedal  
           
Hall & Labagh
New York City (1846)
Mechanical action
2 manuals, 22 stops


The American Musical Directory of 1861 shows that this organ had "2 banks keys, 22 stops, 1½ octaves pedals" and was "Built by Hall & Labagh, in 1846." Specifications for this organ have not yet been located.
           
Sources:
     Aeolian-Skinner Archives web site: http://aeolian-skinner.110mb.com/
     American Musical Directory. New York: Thomas Hutchinson, 1861.
     The American Organist (Jan. 1931). Specifications of Skinner Organ, Op. 185-A (1928).
     Armentrout, Don S. and Robert Boak Slocum, eds. An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church. New York: Church Publishing Inc., 2000.
     Blanchard, Homer D. "The Organ in the United States: A Study in Design." Specifications of Hilborne L. Roosevelt Organ, Op. 1 (1873). The Bicentennial Tracker. Richmond: Organ Historical Society, Inc., 1976, p. 50.
     Appleton, Floyd. Church Philanthropy in New York: A Study of the Philanthropic Institutions of the Protestant Episcopal Churches in the City of New York. New York: Doctoral Thesis, Columbia University, 1906.
     Dolkart, Andrew S. and Matthew A. Postal. Guide to New York City Landmarks (Third Edition). New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2004.
     Dunlap, David. From Abyssinian to Zion: A Guide to Manhattan's Houses of Worship. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004.
     Hawke, H. William. "Some Farnam Registrations," The American Organist (July 1956). Specifications of Hilborne L. Roosevelt Organ, Op. 1 (1873).
     Holden, Dorothy. The Life and Work of Ernest M. Skinner. Richmond: The Organ Historical Society, 1987.
     "Holy Communion Church Rededicated," The New York Observer (Oct. 6, 1910):443-44.
     Kinzey, Allen, and Sand Lawn. E.M. Skinner/Aeolian-Skinner Opus List (New Revised Edition). Richmond: The Organ Historical Society, 1997.
     Lossing, Benson J. History of New York City, Embracing an Outline Sketch of Events From 1609 to 1830, and a Full Account of its Development from 1830 to 1884. New York: The Perine Engraving and Publishing Co. 1884.
     Ogasapian, John. Organ Building in New York City: 1700-1900. Braintree: The Organ Literature Foundation, 1977.
     Schantz Organ Company. Specifications of Schantz Organ, Op. 1200 (1972).
     "Stop, Open and Reed – a Periodical Presentation of Pipe Organ Progress." Boston: Skinner Organ Company, 1922-1927.
     Trupiano, Larry. Factory Specifications of Ernest M. Skinner Organ, Op. 185 (1910).
     Wilson, James Grant, ed. The Centennial History of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of New York 1785–1885. New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1886, p.441-442.
     Wilson, James Grant, ed. The Memorial History of the City of New York from Its First Settlement to the Year 1892. New York: New-York History Company, 1893.

Illustrations:
     Owen, Robert Dale. Hints on Public Architecture. New York: George P. Putnam, 1849. Lithograph, by Ackerman, of Church of the Holy Communion.
     Schantz Organ Company advertisement featuring Schantz organ, Op. 1200 (1972). The American Organist (Nov. 1973).
     Episcopal Diocese of New York Archives: 1901 and 1946 photos of interior.