What do the two Melodeons represent?

Melodeon or Pump Organ

We had a Melodeon, so we made our own music!

There are two Pump Organs on display in here, but in all likelihood we [the Jillsons] had only one – the larger more ornate one would suit our style.

We operated the organ by alternately pressing on the foot pedals. [like a stair stepper]. These pumped air pressure into an air chamber. As we pressed a key, air could pass a thin metal reed, causing it to vibrate [think about the accordion]. Each reed would sound a clear note.

Our melodeon was more portable than a pipe organ, and far lighter than a pianoforte and less delicate than a harpsichord. The larger and more ornate cabinets could produce the full sound needed in church, and were fancy enough for a wealthy family parlor.

Several million free-reed organs and melodeons were produced between the 1850s and the 1920s,The Estee Organ Company of Brattleboro Vermont was a huge manufacturer for the Northeast. In Willimantic, the Home Organ Company, made this pump organ. And many family members would learn to play.

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This feature is made possible by a grant from the Leo J. and Rose Pageau Trust.