Thursday, January 31, 2013

Billy Sunday and his massive Tabernacle in NYC.. Even the sounds of 1917 are captured from the building.

Billy Sunday's Tabernacle was located on Broadway and 168th Street and was a mecca for those who wished to hear the words of the great fighting evangelist. He was indeed a spellbinding  performer who would work out a for a while before going on stage to preach.

 Earlier in life he had been a professional ball player and used a lot of his athletic prowess to wow the crowd.

 In his tabernacles located in NYC, Chicago, and several other large cities there would be literally tens of thousands waiting to hear him and listen not only his his most unique message but also the music. There was a large well tuned choir under the direction of Homer Rodeheaver.

  In fact, they even made some records for the Victor Talking Machine Company in 1917. Recording a 2500 voiced choir singing several religious and patriotic songs. But with the acoustic recording process (recording by horn) they were not successfully recorded. But they did sell. They are at least a very interesting sonic document of the period.

 Sunday made millions in his various programs and continued in his business till his death in 1935. Although after WWI he started to fade from the public's interest.

But the New York Tabernacle was a huge and amazing structure. Torn down in 1992, a relic of another age. Now that is an area of hospitals and professional buildings. I am adding a few pictures of Sunday, the tabernacle, the huge congregation, and even one of their records made in 1917. As you will see below.

Sunday at the White House in 1922 with Secret Service Agent Starling.

Crowds gathering to enter the tabernacle

Homer Rodeheaver tuning up some of the chorus

Just to give an idea of this huge complex. It was massive and would hold nearly 18,000 people  Note the fancy subway entrance.

Just to give an idea of this buildings size. Here it is filled from end to end with passionate followers. It must have been hotter than Hell in there during the summer.

And lastly one of the records made for the Victor Talking Machine Company on June 11, 1917. With a chorus of 2500 and two pianos under the direction of Homer Rodeheaver.  In listening to it I can hear a small part of the voices and the basses are pretty much lost altogether. But that was due to the recording process. Still an interesting piece of NYC history.