You know what's better than spending an afternoon being allowed to play antique reed pump organs ranging from the smallest portable late 1900s type used exclusively by traveling preachers to the enormous, chord-foot-pedal-board, pipe type that are the stuff of cathedrals? Nothing. Nothing is better then doing this. My New England adventures continue up here in Vermont as I headed over to the Estey Organ Museum this past weekend to see the former industrial complex that housed the large yet humble Estey Organ manufacturing plant!

The plant itself was composed of a series of slate sided structures set up in a grid with a few wooden and brick houses scattered about, the entire area (hidden a few blocks back from a street that boasts mostly of gas stations and a small strip mall) once had a massive system of pistons connected underground that provided all of the energy needed to run the machines that would do everything from cut the wooden jigsaw ornamentation to power the sewing machines that made the cloth that adorned the foot pedals of the vacuum pump melodeons. Trying to imagine one whole factory whose generators basically ran on one rhthym is sort of incredible, the early sound of industry -up and down- under your feet, sprawling across the different factory spaces...such a cacophony humming below, working towards making the full, all-encompassing singing tones of what was a popular instrument of its day. I should really make/recreate sonic tours of this place?

Founded in 1846 the factory pumped out all types of reed organs, moving into pipe organs in 1901 and even stretching decades into the beginnings of electronic organs, employing Harald Bode who would become a Moog desciple in the development of the electronic keyboard. Going on a historical tour led by the most friendly older New England man, a fellow tour goer at my side (who actually turns out to be the author behind a series of Vermont murder mysteries, the next to take place in the spooky basements of the organ factory) through the manufacturing and development of the factory was amazing, and ending the tour with a gift of an avant-garde electronic music CD was equally as super, but, being able to sit behind a giant pipe organ, one that had been dissected (the pipes tiered and separated, a wooden platform and tubing providing support, so that one could walk between the pieces of the instrument when being played, see the swellbox sway, and hear the air rush through) was the most inspiring thing you could imagine as your (featuring the likes of Stephen Vitiello and Pauline Oliveros) feet pressed on chords and your hands moved across layers of resonating keys was an experience I will never, ever forget as long as I live.

 After reading this brief article on Why We Go To Museums over at one of the Walker Art Center blogs shortly after my Estey Museum going experience I began to objectively recognize how and why I ended up there: to learn something about the world, to learn something about myself and to "recharge" away from the madness of reality, all things that sitting behind a bellowing low C# of a tiny organ as my feet pumped air, pedaling back and forth, and my fingers sat upon century old keys played by who knows who connected me to these reasons more so than ever before. I go to these places to connect to a past, a present and a future, to find a tiny space where what we are doing and why makes sense, a sense that inspires us to do better, create better and overall enrich the world one rounded C# at a time. Find whatever these places are for you.



Donna K. lives in the Midwest and on the internet. Mostly she writes about her interest in the offline world.