Bethlehem Lutheran Church - Bay Ridge (Brooklyn), N.Y.
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Bethlehem Lutheran Church

6935 Fourth Avenue at Ovington Avenue
Brooklyn, N.Y. 11209
http://www.bethlehembayridge.org/



Organ Specifications:
6935 Fourth Avenue at Ovington Avenue (since 1923)
• III/ Allen Van Zoeren
III/24 M.P. Möller, Op. 6494 (1937)
• III/ Geo. Kilgen & Son, Op. 4387 (1929)
51st Street near Sixth Avenue (1906-1922)
• Wm. & Chas. H. Pilcher? (c.1906)



Bethlehem Lutheran Church in the Bay Ridge area of Brooklyn can trace its roots to November 1, 1903, when a small group gathered in the store room of a grocery store on the corner of 51st Street and 6th Avenue, and prevailed upon the Rev. Dr. John Holthusen, pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, to open a mission that would serve the mostly German community. Thus was born the Brooklyn Mission Society's Bay Ridge mission. In September 1904, the Brooklyn Mission Society called the Rev. Paul Lindemann, a recent graduate of Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri to Trinity as Missionary to Bay Ridge to organize a congregation and serve as pastor. On April 13, 1905 the Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church was officially organized, with Rev. Lindemann as first Pastor.

After two years in a storefront, the new congregation built a portable church on two nearby lots on 51st Street, just east of 6th Avenue. Built at a cost of $3,500, the small church accommodated 125 people and was dedicated on May 27, 1906. On April 2, 1907 Bethlehem became self-supporting and was admitted as a voting member of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. (Bethlehem has since left the Missouri Synod and is a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.)

Bethlehem was a largely German congregation that held services in both German and English. During the 1920s many of its members began moving south towards Fort Hamilton, and the neighborhood became home to Scandinavian immigrants, who although Lutheran, held services in their own language. Bethlehem decided to follow its members and in 1921 purchased a plot on the corner of Fourth and Ovington Avenues for $19,000. The site measured 86 feet along Fourth Avenue by 110 feet deep on Ovington Avenue, providing enough space for both a church and parsonage. The church on 51st Street was sold to the St. Johannis Swedish Lutheran Congregation for $9,750.

Plans for a new church were drawn up by the architectural firm of Koch & Wagner and construction began on October 1, 1922. Due to financial constraints, the church was constructed in two stages: first the basement and parsonage, and then, as funds permitted, the upper church would be completed. The cornerstone was laid on November 26, 1922 by Ernst C. Schumacher, owner of Bethlehem's original "storefront church" on 51st Street. During construction, the congregation held services in Grace Methodist Church across the street. The completed basement was dedicated on April 26, 1923, and the congregation would meet there for the next six years. Construction on the upper church began in July 1929, and the completed church was dedicated on February 23, 1930.

In 1957, the congregation established the Lutheran Elementary School of Bay Ridge, and in July 1969 purchased an apartment building at 415 Ovington Avenue to enable church and school expansion. Bethlehem also founded the Bay Ridge Center for Older Adults that now provides meals, education, day-trips, social services, counseling and a food pantry.
         
Allen Van Zoeren
Brooklyn, N.Y.
Electro-pneumatic action
3 manuals


The present organ in the church is the work of Allen Van Zoeren, who rebuilt and revised the 1936 Möller organ. Specifications for this organ have not yet been located.
           
M.P. Möller, Inc.
Hagerstown, Md. – Opus 6494 (1937)
Electro-pneumatic action
3 manuals, 36 stops, 24 ranks


The Factory Specifications (Dec. 10, 1936) show that M.P. Möller built a new organ that reused some pipes and chests from the previous 1929 Kilgen organ. Möller provided a new detached three-manual drawknob console, plus grilles and memorial plates. The organ was to be completed by March 14, 1937.
               
Great Organ (Manual II) – 61 notes, enclosed with Choir
8
  Diapason
73
   
Chimes
21 Tubular Bells
8
  *Claribel Flute
73
8
 
*Harp [TC]
61 Bars
8
  *Gemshorn
73
4
 
Celesta [ext.]  
4
  *Octave
73
   
Great 16'
 
4
  *Gemshorn [ext.]
   
Great 8' (Unison)
 
8
  *French Horn
73
    Great 4'  
    Tremolo          
               
Swell Organ (Manual III) – 61 notes, enclosed
16
  Bourdon [unit]
97
    *Mixture III ranks
183
8
  Geigen Diapason
73
8
  *Trumpet
73
8
  Gedeckt [ext.]
8
  *Oboe
73
8
  Salicional
73
8
  Vox Humana
61
8
  Voix Celeste [TC]
61
    Tremolo  
4
  *Gemshorn
73
    Swell 16'  
4
  Lieblich Flute [ext.]
    Swell 8' (Unison)  
2 2/3
  Nazard [ext.]
    Swell 4'  
2
  Piccolo [ext.]
       
               
Choir Organ (Manual I) – 61 notes, enclosed
8
  Gamba
73
8
  *Clarinet
73
8
  *Concert Flute
73
    Tremolo  
8
  Dulciana [unit]
85
    Harp
GT
8
  Unda Maris [TC]
61
    Celesta
GT
4
  *Rohr Flute
73
    Choir 16'  
4
  Dulcet [ext.]
    Choir 8' (Unison)  
2 2/3
  Dolce Nazard [ext.]
    Choir 4'  
2
  Dolce Fifteenth [ext.]
       
               
Pedal Organ – 32 notes
16
  Diapason
44
8
  Flute [ext.]
16
  Bourdon [unit]
56
8
  Gedeckt
SW
16
  Lieblich Gedeckt
SW
4
  Flute [ext.]
8
  Octave
16
  Double Trumpet [ext. SW]
12
             
           
* new stops by M.P. Möller
Couplers
    Great to Pedal 8', 4'   Choir to Great 16', 8', 4'
    Swell to Pedal 8', 4'   Great to Choir 8'
    Choir to Pedal 8', 4'   Swell to Choir 16', 8', 4'
    Swell to Great 16', 8', 4'   Choir to Swell 8'
               
Adjustable Combinations
   
Swell & Pedal Pistons 1-2-3-4-5-6 (thumb)
Great & Pedal Pistons 1-2-3-4-5-6 (thumb)
Choir & Pedal Pistons 1-2-3-4-5-6 (thumb)
Pedal Organ Pistons 1-2-3-4 (thumb & toe)
Entire Organ Pistons 1-2-3-4-5-6 (thumb & toe)
  General Cancel Piston
               
Accessories
    Balanced Exp. Pedal – Swell   Great to Pedal Reversible
    Balanced Exp. Pedal – Choir & Great   Sforzando Pedal & Piston
    Balanced Crescendo Pedal    
           
Geo. Kilgen & Son
St. Louis, Mo. – Opus 4387 (1929)
Electro-pneumatic action
2 manuals


The original organ in the present church was built in 1929 by Geo. Kilgen & Son of St. Louis. Specifications for this organ have not yet been located.
         
  Bethlehem Lutheran Church - Bay Ridge (Brooklyn), N.Y.
  Church at Christmas 1907, showing organ at right
Organ in first church on 51st Street:

Wm. & Chas. H. Pilcher?
Brooklyn, N.Y. (c.1906)
Mechanical action


This organ does not appear on the opus list of Henry Pilcher's Sons firm in Louisville, Ky., so it may have been built by Wm. & Chas. Pilcher of Brooklyn. Specifications for this organ have not yet been located.
           
Sources:
     Bethlehem Lutheran Church web site: http://www.bethlehembayridge.org/
     Trupiano, Larry. Factory Specifications of M.P. Möller Organ, Op. 6496 (1936).

Illustrations:
     Bethlehem Lutheran Church web site. Exterior; interior of old church at Christmas 1907.