Saturday, April 26, 2014

Strascino Piano Company

Recently I had someone ask about the history of the Strascino Piano Company, so I had to do some digging.

The company was formed in 1895, but only lasted until 1908, when the company dissolved.

The owners and managers of the company had hoped a source of local labor could be drawn upon and trained to fill requirements. The thought perished in the very onset. The art of piano making, especially in the era of the Strascino venture, was a highly specialized field of endeavor.

Piano makers served a four to five year apprenticeship, followed by no less than two years as journeyman before being accepted into the guild.

There wasn’t a single operation at the Strascino plant that even faintly represented mass production. All leg spindles were hand turned, scrolls and trim were hand carved, even most of the holes required, were hand drilled.

The varnishing, or finishing as it was called was a process requiring tremendous skill. Each piano received from six to eight coats of a high grade, extremely thin resin varnish. After each application was thoroughly dry, it was hand rubbed.

The finisher sprinkled powdered pumice stone into the palm of his hand and added a few drops of boiled linseed oil. From here on, hours of long sweeps of a back and forth motion continued until the individual felt his work was almost completed. In the final operation pumice stone or talcum powder was used. The finished product had the appearance of a mirror. Today the entire practice is a lost art.

The amount of time that these true craftsmen used to create the pianos, as well as the invention of the Player Piano, was the beginning of the demise of the company.

There are several of these pianos on display at the Galloway House and Village.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Thornton Library

It's official!

The library on the grounds of the Fond du Lac Co. historical Society is now known as "The Thornton Library", named after longtime members and supporters. Ray and Mildred Thornton!

A Grand re-opening of the library will be held Saturday, May 3, 2014, from 10 am to 4 pm.