BRATTLEBORO -- The Estey Organ Museum will sponsor a tour of Brattleboro Estey pipe organs on Saturday, May 17, beginning at 1 p.m.
The tour will start at the First United Methodist Church on Putney Road, and conclude at the Estey Organ Museum, 108 Birge St. Area organists will demonstrate each of the playable organs and explain the distinctive features of each one. Stops on the tour, in addition to the Methodist Church, will include the First Church of Christ, Scientist (1:25 p.m.) and the Elks Lodge (1:45 p.m.), on Putney Road, St. Michel’s Roman Catholic Church (2:15 p.m.) on Walnut Street, the Stone Church (3 p.m.), the Brattleboro Masonic Center (3:15 p.m.) and the First Baptist Church (3:45 p.m.) on Main Street. The tour will conclude with a visit to the Estey Museum on Birge Street at 4:30 p.m., where refreshments will be served.
For many years the Estey Company had a policy that any church in Brattleboro could obtain a pipe organ at cost from the company. Many of those organs still exist, though most of them have been modified in some way. Estey Opus No. 1 (1901) is at the United Methodist Church, having been moved from the church’s original location on Elliot Street. St. Michael’s Episcopal Church and Centre Congregational Church have disposed of their Esteys. The museum has on display two Estey pipe organs, one from Alabama and the other from Hinsdale, N.H.
For more than 100 years the Estey Organ Company played a major economic role in the life of Windham County. The company manufactured some 520,000 reed organs, which were shipped all around the world, and some 3,200 pipe organs, shipped mostly to the United States. During the late 1950s the company even manufactured electronic organs for a while. With as many as 500 people on the payroll, Estey employees played active roles in the churches, lodge halls and political activities of the state.
Formed in 2002 to celebrate the unique contributions of the company, the Estey Organ Museum, located at 108 Birge St., preserves and exhibits a variety of the company’s musical instruments, publishes e-mail and print newsletters and sponsors a variety of programs recalling the unique contributions of this company.