Old Main antique piano

Submitted photo


This antique Chickering piano was recently donated to Old Main in Galesville.

Lynn Miller and her son and wife Chase and Olga, of La Crosse, Wis., have given the antique square Chickering piano built c. 1855 to the Old Main Cultural Center in Galesville that was originally owned by William Renwick, who purchased it in Galena, Ill. His descendants, the late Dr. Rick and his wife Suzette Renwick, gave it to the Miller family. 

The piano brings a hands-on element to the earliest history of the historic Galesville University. When the school opened in the Trempealeau County Court House in 1859, then in Galesville, piano, melodion, and guitar lessons were offered to students. Old Main recently acquired a playable period melodion from the estate of Philip Jensen. The piano and melodion represent the furnishings people who had settled frontier Wisconsin were buying to grace the new Victorian homes they were starting to build. Rev. Jim Riley, Gale Star program chairman, has said, “These instruments are important for helping to tell the social history of our region and people’s interest in the arts that they wanted to pass on to their children.”

Concert pianist, Dr. Pamela Kelly, who serves on the board of the Old Main Cultural Center, will supervise finding the technical support to bring the piano into playable condition. Someone who would provide the gift for full restoration of the antique square piano would merit an honored place at the first concert on the Chickering and admission to all the “Gale Star” concerts at Old Main, where the Steinway grand piano built in 1916 is the centerpiece of Old Main’s concert program.