St. Ann's Roman Catholic Church, Nyack, New York
Opus 647, 2008 | Page: | 1 | 2 | 3 | Specification | Gallery | (click on picture at right to enlarge)
The picturesque village of Nyack is situated on the western bank of the Hudson, less than 20 miles north of Manhattan. Home to 19th-century realist painter Edward Hopper, the village was perhaps better known for its sandstone quarry and as a locus of shipbuilding. These industries declined after 1900, though there was renewed shipbuilding activity during the world wars, with submarine chasers being built there as late as 1948. In the postwar years, the completion of the Tappan Zee Bridge contributed to significant growth in population and commerce. The village underwent a major urban revitalization project to commercialize the downtown area and to expand its economy in the 1980s; today the village center is home to many new business establishments.
I took note of this downtown revitalization when I first visited St. Ann’s Church on a warm spring day in 2006. I had been contacted by Jennifer Pascual in her capacity as chair of the organ committee for the New York Archdiocesan Music Commission. Several weeks prior, Dr. Pascual had asked that I meet with the staff of St. Ann’s, survey the organ, and make recommendations.
On entering the building, to my delight I discovered a well-appointed church sanctuary with terrazzo floors, high ceiling, and best of all, an organ located in the gallery on the central axis. Finally a room that we could work with instead of against! I quickly set about my work, dutifully examining the pipe organ.
Little is known about the life and work of Francis John Newton Tallman, a builder who, according to Fox [David A. Fox, A Guide to North American Organbuilders], based his operations (serendipitously for St. Ann’s) in Nyack from roughly 1894 to 1903, and it is during this period that the organ for St. Ann’s was built. In addition to his organ factory, Tallman also maintained a music store in Nyack village. Prior to life in Nyack, Tallman was employed by the Roosevelt firm, and when he left Nyack in 1904 he reportedly relocated to Brooklyn to work with Reuben Midmer.
The organ Tollman built for St. Ann’s was originally a two-manual instrument with mechanical action, and of his surviving instruments, St. Ann’s was purportedly among the largest. There was evidence that the original keydesk was situated en fenÍtre; the panel that replaced the keydesk’s entry point into the case was without the lancet molding treatment found in the rest of the case, as well as being from an entirely different species of wood. The interior layout of the organ suggested a backfall action had been employed for the Great, with squares and trackers for the Swell. The Pedal was divided, on ventil chests.

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