NORTH TONAWANDA –A 1930s-era Wurlitzer, blond-finish, grand piano took a circuitous route, but the much loved instrument will soon be part of a permanent display at the North Tonawanda History Museum.
The former Wurlitzer factory in North Tonawanda and its great pipe organs are a big part of North Tonawanda history, but it also was one of the first American piano companies to offer well made, sturdy and good sounding pianos that could fit in smaller places like a smaller home or apartments.
Called “workhorse” pianos, they were intended for a practice room or living room with the intention to have a Wurlitzer in as many homes as possible across the country.
The Wurlitzer Exhibit Hall in the museum is being arranged to make an appropriate home for the collector showpiece, which is being shipped from Connecticut.
The piano belonged to Nancy M. Goodwin, who first sought to donate it in 2008. This was at a time when the museum was still occupying a temporary site at 314 Oliver St., and storing most of its collection in the former Lowry School Building at 621 Payne Ave.
Goodwin’s daughter, Glenda Goodwin Cova, called the museum from Wilmington, Del., in 2008 and said her mother didn’t think she could take the piano in the relocation.
Working together, the museum and Cova arranged to have the piano appraised and estimated its moving costs. With no funds to buy and ship the piano, the museum was able to secure a donation from a local manufacturing firm to cover moving costs to bring it to North Tonawanda.
By the time the check was deposited and sent to the moving company, Goodwin had decided she couldn’t part with her beloved piano. Instead her family moved it with her other possessions to Connecticut.
Flash forward to March 1, nearly seven years later, and Donna Zellner Neal, director of the museum, received an email from the Goodwin family, informing her that Mrs. Goodwin, age 83, had died and had always wanted the museum to have the piano for its collection. The family also agreed to cover the costs of shipping it.
The piano is valued at between $6,000 and $7,000 and is expected to be in transit and arrive sometime this week. When it arrives, it will be on permanent display at the museum, 54 Webster St.