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Parlor Pump Organ

Parlor Pump Organ


One of the interesting pieces of furniture in “Grandma’s House” (the replica of a 19th century home that is built inside the museum) is a pump organ in the formal parlor of the house.  Although I had seen quite a few such pump organs, and even played one when, as a teenager, I helped my aunt with youth church programs,  I didn’t know much about their history.   

Wikipedia reports, “The pump organ is a type of free-reed organ that generates sound as air flows past a vibrating piece of thin metal in a frame. The piece of metal is called a reed. Specific types of pump organ include the reed organ, harmonium, and melodeon. The idea for the free reed was imported from China through Russia after 1750, and the first Western free-reed instrument was made in 1780 in Denmark.

More portable than pipe organs, free-reed organs were widely used in smaller churches and in private homes in the 19th century, but their volume and tonal range were limited. They generally had one or sometimes two manuals, with pedal-boards being rare. The finer pump organs had a wider range of tones, and the cabinets of those intended for churches and affluent homes were often excellent pieces of furniture. Several million free-reed organs and melodeons were made in the US and Canada between the 1850s and the 1920s, some of which were exported.

The particular pump organ in Springfield Museum was restored by Bernard Kastin, Sr. after his brother-in-law, Eldon Odens discovered it on property they moved to in Chamberlain.  Bernard repaired the bellows to working order and refinished the exterior, so we have this lovely organ to display.  Come visit the Museum on Sunday between 2:00 and 4:00, or call Alice Petrik at 605-369-2626 or Matt Huisman at 605-369-2982 for an appointment.  See you at the museum.