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NILES HERITAGE Old piano finds a new home in museum



Published: Mon, July 30, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Heritage Day runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Ward-Thomas Museum.

By DENISE DICK

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

NILES -- A recent donation to the Niles Historical Society embodies the adage, "Everything old is new again."

Curtis and Diannia Behner donated an antique baby grand piano to the Niles Historical Society, which will display it in the Ward-Thomas House Museum.

The couple bought the Alhstrom square grand piano, which dates to Civil War times, in 1978 along with the house at the corner of Arlington Avenue and Church Street. The house was built in 1871.

"The house was so historical and when we looked at it we said, 'Ohh, look at the piano,'" Mrs. Behner said.

Although no one in the family played the piano, they kept the piece in a music room, placed beneath a leaded glass window. The Behners sold the house to move into a new home in Lordstown, and the new owners didn't want the piano, prompting the couple to donate it to the historical society.

Display: The piano will be featured in the historical society's Heritage Day from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Ward-Thomas Museum, Brown Street. The museum is a block east of state Route 46 on the city's south side.

A Warren piano moving company took the 800-pound instrument from the Arlington Avenue home to the museum library. Pictures of the piano's original owners, George and Hannah Harris Taylor, sit atop the antique piece. The Taylors also built the Arlington Avenue house.

Its 24.5-inch-high, intricately carved legs were attached with a dowel rod. No metal screws or bolts were used to attach the legs. The center keys still work, but those at either end don't. Costs will determine whether the society will have the piano repaired.

Other sights: Heritage Day also features demonstrations of hand-quilting and blacksmith work, displays of old tools and full-size gowns designed as those worn by first ladies, and a tour of the 14-room Victorian museum with more than 3,000 items.

For $5, appraisers will provide visitors with the current values of two items.

Live entertainment, food and beverages and a bake sale also are available throughout the day. Admission to the museum and grounds is $4 for adults and $2 for students younger than 5 accompanied by an adult. Parking is free.

Taylor and his brother owned Taylor Bros. Hardware Store in the city. He later owned a real estate and insurance company. A souvenir plate from the company donated to the historical society several years ago also sits atop the newest museum feature.

Mrs. Thomas's brother, Charles Harris, invented the Harris automatic printing press used in newspaper printing. The original press is housed in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

The Behners bought the house and the piano from heirs of the Taylors who left family pictures in the home. Copies of some of the photographs are displayed along with the piano at the museum.

"I looks beautiful in here," Diannia Behner said. "It looks right at home."

dick@vindy.com




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