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OUR History

The New York Times, Sunday May 20, 1928. “Celebrating Parish Progress on The Heights: The Laying of the Cornerstone of the New Parish House and Parsonage for the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Our Savior’s Atonement, Washington Heights.

The Merger.

In January of 1927, Our Saviour's Atonement Lutheran Church was born out of the merger of two smaller congregations: The Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Atonement, and the Lutheran Church of Our Saviour. Both churches had been missions of St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church. Atonement Lutheran, established in 1896, built a church in 1897 at 116 Edgecombe Avenue, which is now the home of Mt. Calvary United Methodist Church. The Church of Our Saviour, established in 1898, was first located at 525 West 179th Street, then moved to 580 West 187th Street (which is now Holy Cross Armenian Apostolic Church). 

The Building.

The new congregation bought property on Bennett Avenue and laid the cornerstone for a Parish House in 1928. Original plans had also included a Lutheran hospital to be constructed on land extending to 187th Street, but the hospital never came into being. The building project coincided with the completion of a subway route – the A train – into the area. Many churches in Washington Heights were built that year, and many were never completed. The stock market crash of 1929 dashed plans for a gothic sanctuary, as designed by Mayers, Murray & Phillip. Completed in December 1928, the Parish House turned out to be the only building the congregation would ever know. In the 1970s, the Parish House was transformed into the Cornerstone Center, providing space for a video studio, dance and performance space, a kindergarten, and a church for the deaf. The Reform Jewish congregation known as Beth Am, The People's Temple, also began sharing the facilities.

The Organ.

The organ in Our Saviour's Atonement Lutheran Church was originally built by M.P. Möller as Op. 9370 (1960) who installed it in the gallery of the Chapel of the Interchurch Center on Riverside Drive. In 1982, the organ was reconfigured by Austin Organs, who added several ranks of new pipes and provided a new three-manual rocker-tab console. In 2007, prior to the installation of a new Klais organ, the Interchurch Center donated the Möller/Austin organ to Our Saviour's Atonement Lutheran Church and provided funding for its removal. Glück Pipe Organs of New York City was contracted to move the organ, set up the Great division and connect the resources of the previous Möller organ (Op. 5623) to the Austin console. Since 2007, the original Möller organ (Op. 5623) has been significantly upgraded and the remainder of the Interchurch Center organ which could be used at Our Saviour’s Atonement was installed in stages by Mann & Trupiano of Brooklyn.

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