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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • VITAL TO VICTORY: WWII

A Sign Unto You: 1922

A Sign Unto You: 1922

New York, May 1922. "Grace Methodist Episcopal Church, West 104th Street." Gutted by a five-alarm fire in 1983. Bain News Service. View full size.

 
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Senate Chaplain

The Saturday New York Times of May 6, 1922 had an advertisement for the service (shown below). Presumably then the Isham Jones Orchestra played at the church on Sunday May 7.

Rev. Dr. Frederick Brown Harris was born on April 10, 1883 in Worcestershire, England, and came to the United States as a child. He was ordained a Methodist minister in 1909. After two other pastorates, he came to this church in 1918. In 1924 he became the pastor of the Foundry United Methodist Church, in Washington, D.C., where he would remain until he retired in 1955.

Rev. Harris became the Chaplain to the U.S. Senate on October 10, 1942. This lasted until January 4, 1947. After the sudden death of his successor, Rev. Peter Marshall in January 1949, Harris was again appointed U.S. Senate Chaplain. This tenure lasted from February 3, 1949 to January 9, 1969. During his life Harris conducted the funeral services for President Herbert Hoover, Senator Robert A. Taft, and General Douglas MacArthur. He died on August 18, 1970. He remains the longest serving Senate Chaplain (24 years total).

Can't quite read the whole sign

Specifically the lighter print between "Orchestra Of Chicago" and "HEAR THEM"? I've enlarged the photo, but despite the high resolution, that part of the sign is difficult to read. Can anyone tell me what it says? Just curious!

["One of the finest Musical Organizations in the Country, costing Brunswick Co. thousands of dollars each day they spend in N.Y. making records." - Dave]

A joyful noise

It was very unusual for a dance orchestra to play in a church in those days. There was a lot of bombast against dancing and so-called jazz music.

Jones' situation was probably helped by the fact that he himself had played music in his Methodist church as a boy in Saginaw, Michigan, and that his mother was the church's organist.

My neighborhood church

Well, one of them. It is located between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues. I walk past it at least 3 times a week, and remember that fire very well. It is now a neighborhood center-cum-church with an attached apartment building. Interesting that Isham Jones' orchestra played there. That might have gotten me to church!

I suppose the large sign

is more effective than placing a classified ad reading" "Found. One church. If yours please call 555-1212 with a description."

Original verbage

Never have seen these words "this may be your church" on a church sign before. Kind of interesting and also the open window at one of the stained glass panels.

Must have been a pretty hip church

to have had Isham Jones and his orchestra playing! It would have been my church for sure!

Not exactly an "Open Door" church.

I hope nobody was trapped inside when the fire broke out with those gates in place!

A musical church

As a Methodist and a musician, I appreciate that this is apparently a musically enlightened church. The Isham Jones orchestra was one of the most prominent of its day, rivaling that of Paul Whiteman. Also, notice the sermon topic: From Five Flats to Two Sharps. (D-Flat Major to D Major) It would be interesting to know how he made a sermon of that material.

Isham Jones

Leading one of the most popular bands of the 1920s and 30s, Isham Jones would have a million selling record in 1921, Wabash Blues. He retired in 1936 and Woody Herman took charge of the band.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmkxc-FA5wg

 
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