St. Mary, Star of the Sea Catholic Church - Far Rockaway (Queens), NY
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St. Mary, Star of the Sea
(Roman Catholic)

19-20 New Haven Avenue
Far Rockaway (Queens), N.Y. 11691

Organ Specifications:
19-20 New Haven Avenue and Beach 20th Street
Present church (since c.1975):
• II/ Allen Organ Company electronic (c.2000)
• Hammond electronic
First Church (1885-burned 1974):
► II/7 Estey Organ Company, Op. 1081 (1912)
• Unknown (c.1885)
Central Avenue (1857-1885)
• unknown

St. Mary’s is the fifth-oldest parish in Queens and one of the oldest in the Greater Metropolitan area, going back to the days of the first beach resorts in the New York City area. The Marine Pavilion was the first grand bathing hotel established in Far Rockaway, at approximately Plainview Avenue between B. 19 and 20 Sts. in 1833. According to Sharp’s History of the Diocese of Brooklyn, the Rev. Michael Curran celebrated the first Catholic Mass in 1847 in a hotel owned by William Caffrey. By 1850 summer Masses were celebrated by the Rev. Edward John McGinnis, pastor of St. Monica’s in Jamaica, in a tent for the burgeoning summer crowd.

In January 1851 a plot of land was donated by Andrew Brady as a site for a new Catholic church, to be built by local men who contributed their labor and money. The cornerstone of the first church of St. Mary, Star of the Sea was laid on August 15, 1852. This building was located at approximately the site of the old Marine Pavilion, which in turn later became the location of St. Joseph’s (now St. John’s Episcopal) Hospital. The first Mass in the new church was in 1857 by the then-pastor of St. Monica’s, the Rev. Anthony Farley. This first church was located on ground adjoining St. Joseph’s convent on Central Avenue, and was reached from Broadway. It lay back from the road and worshippers climbed over a “stile” to get there. There are references to a parish schoolhouse adjacent to it as early as 1872, which may have been used for Sunday school and parish meetings. It may also have served as the original parish school building when the Sisters of St. Joseph came in 1877.

Postcard of 1885 church (c.1917)  
In 1883 Father Zimmer purchased the land at the corner of Clark and Catherine Streets (now New Haven Avenue and Beach 20th Street) for a new church. It was completed in 1885 at a cost of $28,000, built in a Romanesque style and designed to seat 600. The architect of the new church was Thomas F. Houghton of Brooklyn. The first Mass in the church was celebrated June 14, 1885. This church was enhanced and renovated from time to time over the years, the latest being under Father McKenna in 1973. The church burned to the ground in an electrical fire in February 1974. Its 1897 church bell is enshrined in the new church above the Blessed Sacrament chapel.
Estey Organ Company
Brattleboro, Vt. – Opus 1081 (1912)
Electro-pneumatic action
2 manuals, 7 stops, 7 ranks
Great Organ (Manual I) – 61 notes
  Open Diapason
Swell Organ (Manual II) – 61 notes, enclosed
  Stopped Diapason
  Flute Harmonic
Pedal Organ – 30 notes
    Great to Pedal       Great Unison Separation
    Swell to Pedal       Swell 16', 4' Unison Separation
    Swell to Great 16', 8', 4'          
Pedal Movements
    Balanced Swell Pedal       Great to Pedal Reversible
     Allen Organ Studios web site:
     Carnahan, John. Factory Shop Order of Estey Organ, Op. 1081 (1912).
     The Estey Pipe Organ web site:
     St. Mary, Star of the Sea Church web site:

     Allen Organ Studios web site. Interior of present church.
     Far Rockaway web site: Postcard (c.1917) of 1885 church.