COMMENT: The organ had been built in Philadelphia in 1813, for $6,000, by John Lowe, who came from England in 1795. It was intended for the St. John’s Episcopal Church (aka Chapel of St. John), completed in 1807 with a 215 foot clock tower on Hudson Street in Manhattan. Lowe traveled to New York in an attempt to recover the organ from the British, but took ill and died there on Dec.13, 1813.
The organ was ransomed for $2,000, with the money carried to the Plantagenet, under flag of truce, by Lowe’s apprentice Thomas S. Hall. Hall then installed the organ at St. John’s Church, aided by St. John’s organist Peter Erben [sometimes spelled Eben] and his 13-year old son Henry Erben, and it was first used on Easter Sunday, 1814.
Thomas Hall married Maria, Peter Erben’s daughter. He returned to Philadelphia and took over John Lowe’s organ building business, with young Henry Erben as his apprentice. Henry went on to become a famous organ builder in his own right.
The organ at St. John’s was replaced in 1840, and in 1845 donated to St. Clement’s Episcopal Church, then located on Amity Street (now West 3rd St) in Greenwich Village, but remained in storage there until it was rebuilt and installed by Henry Crabbe in 1851. It was still in use as late as 1903, when it was repaired, but its further history remains a mystery. It had a mechanical key and stop action, with 3 manuals, and 32 stops, but further details are unknown.
St. Clement’s Church was closed on Amity Street in 1920, when it was moved to and merged with St. Cornelius’ Church on West 46th Street. St. John’s Church was closed in 1909 and demolished (despite public objections) in 1917.