Thessalonia Baptist Church

951 Rev. James A. Polite (Stebbins) Avenue (since 1943)
The Bronx, N.Y. 10459

Organ Specifications:
951 Rev. James A. Polite Avenue (since 1943)
• III/ Rodgers Instruments electronic
• V/86 Baldwin Organ Company electronic
• II/ "Style Church" Wurlitzer, Op. 560 (1922)
921 Eagle Avenue (1939-1943)
• unknown
314 East 158th Street (1934-1939)
• unknown
921 Eagle Avenue (1919-1934)
• unknown

The Thessalonia Baptist Church was organized in 1892 by seven members from Flavannah County, Va., who had relocated to New York. A mission was established in the Fordham section of the Bronx. The Rev. T. Wyatt served as pastor until 1894. The congregation moved to 921 Eagle Avenue in 1919, remaining there until 1934, when a new building was erected at 314 East 158th Street. Within five years the congregation was without a pastor or a place to worship, but services were held briefly in the Epworth Methodist Episcopal Church. On June 21, 1939, the congregation rented their former location at 921 Eagle Avenue. Minister James A. Polite assisted as supply pastor with the help of Rev. B. Bonaparte, Sr. 

During the church business meeting on October 4, 1939, a motion was carried that Minister Polite be ordained and become Pastor of the Thessalonia Baptist Church. On October 17, 1943, he led the congregation to purchase the former Temple Sinai on Stebbins Avenue. Rev. Polite served Thessalonia faithfully for 41 years until his death in September of 1980. In recognition of his dedicated service to church and community, Stebbins Avenue was renamed Rev. James A.  Polite Avenue in his honor, becoming the first street in New York City to have the title Reverend included in its name.

Since moving to its present location, Thessalonia Baptist Church has built a multi-million dollar Community Cultural Center. The Thessalonia Academy, Thessalonia Institute of Education/Religion and the TIR Bookstore are some of the in-house programs.

Thessalonia has a radio ministry broadcast over radio WWDJ-970AM at 9:30 PM on Tuesday evenings and television broadcast on Bronxnet Cable TV.

Rodgers Instruments LLC
Hillsboro, Ore.
Digital tonal production
3 manuals

Specifications for this organ have not yet been located.

Baldwin Organ Company
Baldwin, Wisc. – Model C500
Electronic tonal production
5 manuals, 86 stops

Specifications for this organ have not yet been located.

Wurlitzer Organ Company
North Tonawanda, N.Y. – Opus 560 (1922)
Electro-pneumatic action
"Style Church"
2 manuals, 7 ranks

The original organ in the present building was built by the Wurlitzer Organ Company and shipped July 18, 1922. Four fronts of "dummy" or non-speaking pipes masked the chamber openings. Specifications for this organ have not yet been located.

     Junchen, David L., comp. and ed. by Jeff Weiler. The WurliTzer Pipe Organ – An Illustrated History. Chicago: The American Theatre Organ Society, 2005.
     Kaufmann, Preston J. Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ, Vol. 3. Pasadena: Showcase Publications, 1995.
     Thessalonia Baptist Church website:
     Trupiano, Larry. Specifications of Baldwin Organ Company (Model C500) organ.