“For generations, the name of Estey was, and perhaps in some places still is, literally a household word,” writes a business history magazine. Estey reed, pipe, and electronic organs were found in homes and churches in the Americas, Europe, and even Asia and Africa. Near the end of the 19th century, the Estey Organ Company was reputed to be the largest manufacturing establishment of its kind.
Today, the name of Jacob Estey is largely forgotten except among musicians, organ fanciers, and a few historians. Yet from the late 1800s through the 1950s, the Estey Organ Company was a familiar name. And unlike the automated manufacturing of today, Estey Organ Company was a craft business employing relatively few, highly specialized workers to build what are now regarded as near works of art.
To explore the historical and musical significance of the Estey Organ Company further, we have started the Estey Organ Museum. One of the goals of the Estey Organ Museum project is to capture Estey’s unique time in history, from the point of view of Estey’s owners, workers, customers, and neighbors.
The Estey Organ Museum was founded in 2002 as a 501(3)(c) non-profit corporation to celebrate the heritage of Estey Organ Company of Brattleboro, Vermont by the collection, restoration, display and performance of Estey and other organs; by the preservation, research, interpretation and dissemination of historical information about the company, its products and manufacturing practices, its owners, employees, markets, customers and competitors, and its effect in the context of Brattleboro and American history over time; and by the creation of a museum in which the aforementioned activities may occur.