By Carolyn Lee
The Imperial Republican
The Imperial city council voted Monday night to take bids for the 1916 Steinway grand piano currently housed beneath the stage at the Imperial Theatre.
The council accepted the recommendation from the Community Center Commission (theatre board) to sell it for a minimum sealed bid of $10,000.
A request by the theatre board for public input recently received very few opinions.
The piano, purchased in 1989 through fundraising drives by a committee, was used during concerts and recitals in the theatre. Use declined after the Chase County Schools facility was built, which included an auditorium and pianos.
In recent years it was used mainly for recitals involving piano students of Dr. J. Gordon Christensen, who moved from Imperial this past summer.
Dr. Christensen was on the piano fund committee that raised the $13,500 for the piano, which he found in a Denver piano liquidator’s shop.
The city built a climate controlled vault under the theatre stage to house the instrument. In past years, according to City Clerk/Administrator Jo Leyland, the humidifier in the vault has quit at times, allowing mold to grow on the piano.
It has been cleaned up at present.
When the piano was installed in the theatre, Dr. Christensen noted that the Model A was very desirable for large homes or small auditoriums such as Imperial’s, and was “visually well-proportioned.”
It’s value was enhanced, he said, because the Steinway company no longer makes that model.
The piano was purchased in 1916 by a Cheyenne, Wyo., business family. It remained in the same family until 1981, when it was inherited by the original owner’s daughter.
She had the piano refinished and rebuilt by Karl Siebert of Denver, a native of Hamburg, Germany. He learned his trade as an apprentice to the Grotreon-Steinweg factory in West Germany.
The piano later became involved in a divorce settlement and came on the market in 1989.
Funds raised from the sale of the piano will be returned to the theatre. According to Leyland, the theatre board wants to make efforts to improve the theatre’s sound system.