TMSC makes generous gift

Published 8:31 am Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Troy Music Study Club is celebrating its 110 anniversary and, in so doing, the members have gifted the club’s 1920 Mason-Hamlin “Baby Grand” piano to the Johnson Center for the Arts in Troy.

The piano was officially donated to the Johnson Center Tuesday when club officers turned over the “keys” to Vicki Pritchett, center executive director. “We, at the Johnson Center had been looking for a piano that would represent the look and style of our 100-year-old building,” Pritchett said. “The Troy Post Office, which is now the Johnson Center for the Arts, was built in 1910 and the ‘Baby Grand’ is the most appropriate piano we could have hoped for.”

Pritchett said when she was told that the members of the Troy Music Study Club wanted to house their piano at the Johnson Center, she wondered what a piano of that age and time would look like.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“I walked down to First Methodist Church to see the piano and it was absolutely beautiful,” Pritchett said. “John Jinright, who has a great knowledge of pianos, said it was an incredible piano and would be perfect for the Johnson Center.”

The Mason-Hamlin’s new home is the foyer of the Johnson Center and will be used for concerts, plays and other events at the arts center.

“The emphasis for the Johnson Center is that it is not just a place to hang beautiful works of art but that it is a center for all the arts,” Pritchett said. “The Johnson Center is a complete arts center. With the Baby Grand piano, we can have concerts and plays. We can have dancing and other type performances. The piano completes the center’s vision to be a place everyone calls their own. We are so appreciative of this wonderful gift from the Troy Music Study Club. We thank them again and again.”

Betty Spann, club historian, said the new Mason-Hamlin “Baby Grand” was unveiled in September 1920 in the Knights of Pythias Hall of the Masonic Temple building in downtown Troy.

“I believe the Troy Music Study Club, which was founded in 1905, met in homes but the piano was housed in what is now the Synco Drugs building,” Spann said. “In its day, it was a very fine piano and it still is.”

Spann said the Troy Music Study Club’s first payment on the piano was made with a War Bond.

“Other payments were made through benefit concerts in other towns, high-class Vaudeville acts and rummage sales,” she said. “Those sophisticated ladies even sold a pig to make payments on the piano.”

Spann said the piano was moved to several different locations over time. The first, from the Masonic Temple building to the faculty/student lounge at Troy State Teachers College and then to the east wing of Smith Hall of Troy State College.

“The piano was then moved to the old Troy High School auditorium located on Elm Street,” she said. “In the late 1980s, it was moved to the Round Room of First United Methodist Church. Now, in our 110th year, we donated the piano to the Johnson Center according to the wishes of the late Don Crapps, a dedicated member of our club. We are proud to have given the piano to the Johnson Center where it will be used for the entire community.