St. Stephen United Methodist Church - The Bronx, N.Y. (photo: Jim Henderson)
 
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Centenary Methodist Episcopal Church

1074 Washington Avenue at 166th Street
The Bronx, N.Y. 10456


Organ Specifications:
II/17 Estey Organ Company, Op. 64 (1903)
• Henry Erben (1867)




The Centenary Methodist Episcopal Church of Morrisania was founded in 1866, the centennial year of American Methodism, hence its name. A church building measuring 150 by 100 feet was erected on a lot at the corner of Washington Avenue and East 166th Street, at a total cost of $50,000. Unfortunately, the material used in its construction — a sort of concrete or artificial stone — proved inadequate for a building of its size, and the lofty spire and supporting tower collapsed soon after completion. Faced with an additional outlay of $10,000 to rebuild the tower and strengthen the building, the financially strapped congregation had no choice but to mortgage their property to the New York Methodist Conference.

Over the next fifteen years the neighborhood declined as a large number of breweries were established in the vacinity, introducing "a foreign element in preponderating numbers, for whom the beer gardens and saloons possess stronger attractions than the house of God." The society resolved to put its hope in the Sunday School, of whom the 250 scholars included "a large number ... from godless homes, some from lager beer saloons, and several from Roman Catholic households." In 1881, unable to meet its mortgage payments, the society formally applied for and was received into the City Church Extension and Missionary Society. The financial situation must have improved by the beginning of the 20th century as a new Estey organ costing $2,900 was purchased.

At an unknown time prior to 1960, the building became home to Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church.
             
  Estey Organ, Op. 64 (1903) in Centenary Methodist Church - The Bronx, NY (credit: Estey Organ Co. Virtual Museum)
Estey Organ Company
Brattleboro, Vt. – Opus 64 (1903)
Tubular-pneumatic action
2 manuals, 17 stops, 17 ranks








The second organ for Centenary Methodist was built in 1903 by the Estey Organ Company of Brattleboro, Vt., for a consideration of $2,900. Installed in an arched alcove behind the pulpit, the organ had tubular-pneumatic and a detached two-manual console placed diagonally from the "C" corner of the case. As described in the contract (Dec. 13, 1903), Estey employed a novel feature in the console:
"The Stop Action to be the Haskell Patent Key Stop Action, which is an abridged key board placed just above the manuals. Each white key represents an ordinary draw stop and when depressed brings into play the register of pipes or couplers indicated on the front of the key. Depressing the alternating black key closes the register."

This organ also contained a labial (reedless) Oboe stop:

"The Oboe Pipe as used in the Estey Pipe Organ is made entirely of wood, no reed being used. It has the correct tone of the Orchestral Oboe and is much more satisfactory in every way than the reed and metal Oboe used by other manufacturers. It is an open wood pipe, voiced in such a manner as to produce the proper over tones and harmonics and speak with the fundamental tone of the pipe, and yet produce the Orchestral Oboe. It can be tuned in the same manner as an ordinary wood pipe, such as the Melodia."
  Estey Organ, Op. 64 (1903) in Centenary Methodist Church - The Bronx, NY (credit: Estey Organ Co. Virtual Museum)

Estey Departmental Correspondence (Feb. 2, 1960) concerning "Organ No. 64 – Trinity Methodist Church, Washington Ave., & E. 166 St., Bronx 56" states that the organ was in bad condition, and the church had been quoted $6,300 for a complete pneumatic job. It is unknown if the work was undertaken, but at some point the organ was removed, leaving only the case.

The photo at right shows the organ case in 2012.

               
Great Organ (Manual I) – 61 notes
8
  Open Diapason
61
8
  Dulciana
61
8
  Viole di Gamba
61
4
  Principal
61
8
  Melodia
61
4
  Flute Harmonic
61
 
     
 
     
Swell Organ (Manual II) – 61 notes, enclosed
16
  Bourdon Bass
61
8
  Aeoline
61
16
  Bourdon Treble (TC)
49
4
  Flute d'Amour
61
8
  Violin Diapason
61
4
  Violina
61
8
  Stopped Diapason
61
2
  Flautino
61
8
  Salicional
61
8
  Oboe (labial)
61
 
     
 
     
Pedal Organ – 30 notes
16
  Bourdon
30
       
8
  Bass Flute
30
       
               
Couplers
    Great to Pedal       Swell to Great  
    Swell to Pedal       Swell to Great Octaves  
               
Pedal Movements
    Great Organ Forte (Adjustable)   Swell Organ Forte (Adjustable)
    Great Organ Piano (Adjustable)   Swell Organ Piano (Adjustable)
    Great to Pedal (Reversible)   Balance Swell Pedal
   
Balance Crescendo & Diminuendo Pedal controlling entire organ
               
Mechanical Accesories
    Bellows Signal   Concave Pedal Board (AGO)
    Tremulant   Haskell's Patent Register Action
    Wind Indicator   Electric Motor
   
Organ Bench with Music Compartment
               

Henry Erben
New York City (1867)
Mechanical action


The first known organ for Centenary Methodist Episcopal Church was built in 1867 by Henry Erben of New York City. Specifications for this organ have not yet been located.

               
Sources:
     The American Organ Archives of the Organ Historical Society, Princeton, N.J. Specifications of Estey Organ, Op. 64 (1903). Courtesy Jonathan Bowen.
     Carnahan, John. Estey Departmental Correspondence (Feb. 2, 1960) regarding condition of Estey Organ, Op. 64 (1903) in Trinity Methodist Church, Bronx.
     Carnahan, John. Factory Contract (Dec. 13, 1903) of Estey Organ, Op. 64 (1903).
     Estey Organ Company Virtual Museum website: http://www.esteyorgan.com
     Nelson, George. Organs in the United States and Canada Database. Seattle, Wash.
     "Report of the New York City Church Extension and Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church," for the years ending Dec. 31st, 1878 – 1896.

Illustrations:
     Estey Organ Museum website. Estey Organ Advertisement for Op. 64 (1903). Courtesy John Carnahan.
     Schmauch, David. Exterior; interior showing organ case.