Extra: Pianos

As a pianist, I am often frustrated by the fact that more and more venues are forsaking their acoustic pianos and requiring performers to bring in their own digital keyboards. While it is true that the digital keyboards can be easily positioned anywhere, require no maintenance on the part of the venue, and are always in tune, they simply cannot match the look, feel, and sound of a real acoustic piano.

I have developed a sense of nostalgia for a time (which I can now hardly remember) when every home, stage, and public gathering space was equipped with a piano. The high point for piano sales in the United States was the 1910's, when dozens of piano factories in the United States produced mostly large upright studio and player pianos that were solidly built from old growth timber. When properly restored and maintained, many of these instruments still sound great today.

The following are images of pianos that at one time graced Iowa's theaters and public spaces and were fortuitously captured in photographs. They are included in this web site for your enjoyment (and because I have no where better to post them at the moment.)

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Theater pianos


Davenport, Family Theatre


Postcard, postmarked 1911, Author's Collection


Des Moines, Harris-Emery Store theater


Postcard, postmarked 1919, Author's Collection


Shenandoah, Mayfair Auditorium

Two pianos! One on stage and one in little alcove to the right.


Postcard, postmarked 1931, Author's Collection


Lobbies, Parlors and Ballrooms


Belle Plaine, "The Herring Cottage", hotel parlor


Undated postcard, Author's Collection


Davenport, Hotel Kimball, Green Parlor


Undated postcard, Author's Collection


Des Moines, Hotel Fort Des Moines ballroom


Undated postcard, Author's Collection


Dubuque, Y.W.C.A. parlor


Postcard postmarked 1909, Author's Collection


Music Stores


Cedar Rapids, Emerson & Hiltbrunner


Undated postcard, Author's Collection


Cherokee, Kendall J. Nelson Pianos & Players


Undated postcard, Author's Collection


Davenport, Tri-City Piano Company


Postcard, Postmarked 1916, Author's Collection


Des Moines, Milligan Piano Sales, 19o9



Postcard, postmarked 1909, Author's Collection


Waterloo, Stroebel Music House, 1910



Postcard, postmarked 1909, Author's Collection

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