Archive for Thursday, August 17, 2006

Organ finds its way ‘home’

August 17, 2006

In the late 1860s, a company named Mason & Hamlin Organ Company manufactured a "Flat Top Reed" Pump Organ that found its way via railway to a family in Easton. Since then, the organ - which no doubt gave a great deal of enjoyment to its original owners - has taken a long road that has landed it here in Lansing.

More than 100 years after the organ was crafted, a descendent of the original purchaser had it restored and placed it for sale in an antique store in Leavenworth.

This beautiful piece of furniture caught the eye of Marilyn Wenzel, who told her husband, Bill, about it. Later as a surprise, he purchased the organ and carted it in the trunk of his car to their home in Austin, Texas. When they moved to a condo in Austin, it went with them. They lived in Austin for 30 years and moved back to Kansas in 2004. The organ came with them to Topeka.

Now, they have generously donated this organ to the Lansing Historical Museum, so after all these years it is back in Leavenworth County.

Ada and I picked it up on Sunday, and with the help of the Wenzel's grandsons, Staley and B.J., we got it loaded into our van and it came home to Lansing.

We have hopes that we can have an organ concert on the deck of the museum or for other functions.

According to what I've read on the Internet, organs should be preserved, they should be played, and they should be enjoyed. According to writing on the inside of our organ, it was tuned in June of 1874. Maybe it's just time to do it again. Anybody out there know how?

The Mason & Hamlin Oregon Company was founded in Boston by Henry Mason and Emmons Hamlin. Their goal was to make the world's finest musical instruments. Henry Mason came from a family of musicians. His father was a famous composer and educator, a visionary who was the first to bring music into the public schools of America. Hamlin was not a musician but a brilliant mechanic and inventor. He invented a way to voice organ reeds, so that they could imitate the sounds of other musical instruments.

Thanks, Bill and Marilyn.

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