August 29, 2016

Square Piano?

      Please see our piano pictured here. It is not just any piano. This is a square piano. Well, it's not really square, it's rectangular, but that's what they call this gem and, if I'm honest, we only own one key.  That's not exactly right either.  And so the story goes, many years ago, when we initially joined our local Amelia Island Museum of History, one of the first projects we participated in was that of restoring this square grand piano for the Victorian Room there. Each key was $100, as I recall.  Since middle C was already snagged by someone else, we chose one we would remember from all the others by its placement and that was low A, the first white key on the left side of the keyboard. Because this was a fund raiser and since we donated the money, you can understand we don't really "own" the piano or the key, but we still love her very much.

     I will never forget the
summer Sunday afternoon we spent at the museum in that Victorian Room.  With a candelabra as the only light, a gentleman in tie and tails played while a lovely women in period costume and wig sang music from vintage sheet music. As a matter of fact, this scene returned before my mind's eye and was part of my mental image when I wrote of Maestro Paolo Alontti in Amelia Island's Velvet Undertow.

     Over time, as the exhibits in the museum were changed, we lost track of the piano.  When I asked someone on the museum board about it, they told me it currently sits in the lobby of the local Citizens State Bank in Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island, Florida. That's downtown Centre Street across from St. Peter's Episcopal Church with the red tin roof.  So if you're in the area, stop in to see it. 
Music Stand
     If you want to learn about these antique square pianos, visit the YouTube links below.  You can hear what a similar piano sounds like in Part 2 of The History of Square Pianos, beginning about 5 minutes into it.  Enjoy!
Piano Lyre and Foot Pedals
Decorative Feet

Brief History of the Square Piano Part 1 - narrated by Thomas Strange of Easley, South Carolina

Brief History of the Square Piano Part 2  - also narrated by Mr. Strange

P.S. In my research, I found this exact-looking square grand piano dating from 1865 to 1873 either sold or selling for $30,000.

This piano is currently housed in the lobby of:
Citizens State Bank
715 Centre St, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
 (904) 261-8233