First Presbyterian Church of Newtown - Elmhurst (Queens), NY
First Presbyterian Church of Newtown

54-05 Seabury Street
Elmhurst (Queens), N.Y. 11373
http://www.fpcn.org


Organ Specifications:
Present building (since 1895)
II/9 Wicks Organ Company, Op. 2186 (1940)
II/12 Ernest M. Skinner Co., Op. 132 (1907)
The Old White Church (1791-burned 1928)
• I/4 Hilborne L. Roosevelt, Op. 30 (1877)


The First Presbyterian Church of Newtown is one of the oldest churches in New York City and the oldest church in the borough of Queens. In 1652, English settlers founded the village of Middleburgh on western Long Island. The settlers sometimes referred to the village as New Towne (later spelled Newtown) to distinguish it from an earlier abandoned English settlement in the same area. They soon built a town church erected on land purchased from Native Americans. On September 23, 1715, the church received a charter from the Presbytery of Philadelphia and became the First Presbyterian Church of Newtown.

The Newtown church was an early advocate of religious freedom in America. Church members protested when the New York Assembly passed the Ministry Act of 1693. Under this act, New Yorkers were to be taxed to support a minister in each county. Suspecting that the Assembly was trying to force the many non-Anglicans in Queens County to support a minister from the Church of England, the Newtown church asked two members to ask the Assembly to exempt Newtown. The Assembly agreed to exempt the town, but the governor refused to recognize the exemption.

First Presbyterian suffered greatly during the Revolutionary War because many of its members opposed British rule. At the urging of the Continental Congress in 1774, the church formed a Committee of Correspondence to communicate with other groups in the colonies who opposed British imperial policy. When the British captured Newtown during the war, they made life miserable for the Presbyterians. British troops imprisoned many church members, removed the church pews, used the church as a prison, and later demolished the church completely, salvaging a part of the pulpit for a horse post. Four years after the Revolution ended, the congregation erected a new church building, later dubbed the Old White Church.

During the nineteenth century, First Presbyterian became one of the largest churches on Long Island. John Goldsmith Payntar, a member of the church, left $70,000 in his Will for the erection of a new church edifice. The current brownstone sanctuary, which has the words "Payntar Memorial" inscribed above the main entrance, was dedicated in 1895. FIrst Presbyterian continued to use the Old White Church as a Sunday School until it was seriously damaged by fire in 1928; it was demolished the following year.

In the 1920s, the church was moved back 125 feet to accommodate New York City's plans to widen Queens Boulevard. This was an engineering marvel, since the church building weighed five million pounds. During the widening, the sanctuary lost its steeple. In 1931, a church house was built behind the sanctuary; the new building had an auditorium with a stage, several classrooms, and a full kitchen.

As late as the 1960s, First Presbyterian's members were primarily of European descent. As Elmhurst became one of the most ethnically diverse communities in the world, the church membership evolved to include people from over 40 countries.
           

  Wicks Organ, Op. 2186 (1940) in the First Presbyterian Church of Newtown - Elmhurst (Queens), NY
Wicks Organ Company
Highland, Ill. – Opus 2186 (1940)
Electro-pneumatic action
2 manuals, 22 stops, 9 ranks
               
Great Organ (Manual I) – 61 notes
8
  Open Diapason
(1)
4
  Octave
(1)
8
  Second Open Diapason
(2)
4
  Flute
(3)
8
  Melodia
(3)
  Tremolo
8
  Dulciana
(4)
     
 
   
 
   
Swell Organ (Manual II) – 61 notes, enclosed

16
  Bourdon
(5)
4
  Violina
(6)
8
  Stopped Flute
(5)
2 2/3
  Nazard
(5)
8
  Quintadena [Syn.] (5) + 2-2/3
2
  Piccolo
(5)
8
  Salicional
(6)
8
  Oboe [Syn.] (6) + 2-2/3
8
  Voix Celeste
(7)
8
  Cornopean
(8)
4
  Flute d'Amour
(5)
    Tremolo  
               
Pedal Organ – 32 notes

16
  Bourdon
(9)
8
  Flauto Dolce
(5)
16
  Lieblich Gedeckt
(5)
8
  Cello
(6)
8
  Bass Flute
(9)
   
             
Couplers

    Swell to Great 16', 8', 4'       Great to Pedal  
  Great 16', 4', Unison Off       Swell to Pedal  
    Swell 16', 4', Unison Off          

           

Ernest M. Skinner Company
Boston, Mass. – Opus 132 (1907)
Electro-pneumatic action
2 manuals, 20 stops, 12 ranks


In 1907, First Presbyterian Church signed a contract with the Ernest M. Skinner Company of Boston to buiild and install a new organ. The organ was located in a chamber to the left of the choir loft. Dr. William C. Carl, organist at First Presbyterian Church in New York City, played the dedication recital.
               
Great Organ (Manual I) – 61 notes
16
  Bourdon [ext. PED]
17
8
  Gedackt
SW
8
  Diapason
61
4
  Harmonic Floete
SW
8
  Gross Floete
61
8
  Cornopean
SW
8
  Aeoline
SW
 
 
   
 
   
Swell Organ (Manual II) – 61 notes, enclosed

8
  Open Diapason
61
8
  Unda Maris [TC]
49
8
  Gedackt
61
4
  Harmonic Floete
61
8
  Viol d'Orchestre
61
8
  Cornopean
61
8
  Viol Celeste
61
  Tremulant
8
  Aeoline
61
   
               
Pedal Organ – 32 notes

32
  Resultant Bass
8
  Gedackt [1st Bourdon]
16
  Open Diapason
32
8
  'Cello [Viol Celeste]
SW
16
  1st Bourdon
44
   
             
Couplers

    Swell to Great 16', 8', 4'       Swell to Pedal 8', 4'  
  Swell to Swell 16', 4'       Great to Pedal  
               
Combinations

    Pistons No. 1-2-3-4 affecting Swell Organ
    Pistons No. 1-2-3 affecting Great Organ

            

Hilborne L. Roosevelt
New York City – Opus 30 (1877)
Mechanical action
1 manual, 4 ranks



Specifications for this organ have not yet been located.

           
Sources:
     First Presbyterian Church of Newtown web site: http://www.fpcn.org
     Nelson, George. Organs in the United States and Canada Database. Seattle, Wash.
     Trupiano, Larry. Factory Specifications of Ernest M. Skinner Organ, Op. 132 (1907).
     Trupiano, Larry. Specifications of Wicks Organ, Op. 2186 (1940).

Photos:
     First Presbyterian Church of Newtown web site: exterior; interior.
           

| NYC AGO Home Page | Back to NYC Organs List |