ASC Luther Bean Museum antique reed organ is February artifact of the month


By Kiki Naranjo

The Adams State College Luther Bean Museum pump organ can still release notes played over 100 years-ago. The museum's February 2009 artifact of the month is the pump organ built by Estey and Company in 1878. The musical instrument, still in working condition, was donated by Charles and Beryl Woodard. "We owe a great deal of gratitude to Col Charles and Mrs. Beryl Woodard for donating this beautiful piece of history," said Kat Olance, director of the museum.

Charles Woodard, a veteran of WWI and WWII, practiced law in Alamosa and served in the Judge Advocacy General's Office. He is credited with assisting Governor Billy Adams in drafting the bill which helped establish Adams State.

The Woodard's also established a very generous scholarship for Adams State students. Their collection contains artifacts from China, Japan, Italy, Germany, Mexico and throughout the United States.

Jacob Estey, who founded the Estey and Company in 1846 in Brattleboro, Vermont, employed approximately 500 people, building some 500,000 reed organs before they closed their doors in the late 1950s. Estey organs were sold in America and across the world. According to the Estey Organ Museum website, starting around the 1870s, some of the Estey organs were designed to straddle/sit on the back of a horse behind the circuit-riding preacher so that the people in the outlying small towns and villages could enjoy the sound of an organ.

An article by Westfield Center's, "Curious Facts of the Organs History," states that one of the first organs is said to have been built in 246 B.C., invented by Ctesibius of Alexandria. Ctesibius, famous in his time, inventions include the water pump, a precise water clock, bronze spring, pneumatic catapults, and the water organ, later known as the pump or reed organ.

The pump organ was then introduced in Rome around 90 B.C. By A.D. 900, organs had made their way into churches, by 1400s being well established in monastic churches and cathedrals throughout Europe. Once established in Europe, the reed/pump organs became very popular in the music culture.

Located in Richardson Hall, room 256, the Luther Bean Museum has a varied collection of antiques, art and artifacts, and is open from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Call 719-587-7151 for information.

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