Walk into the Estey Organ Museum in Brattleboro, Vermont, and you will be inundated by a cacophony of booming, humming, wheezing, and whining. The museum is dedicated to the town’s organ factory, where thousands upon thousands of them were produced. Some are the size of briefcase, some the size of a car. Some are simple, others are festooned with pipes, mirrors, and doilies. All of them are there for you to play.
The organs on display were almost all built less than 200 feet away. At its height, the Estey Organ Company was one of the most prolific organ factories in the world and produced more than half a million organs, which traveled to almost every corner of the Earth.
The museum itself is located in what used to be an engine room, where massive machinery powered multi-building assembly lines. Most of the campus of the old factory is still intact, recognizable by its blue-gray slate shingles, installed to prevent factory fires.
Visitors are encouraged to hop on the antique benches and bang out a tune on any of the display models. There are organs for people of all shapes and sizes, including small ones for toddlers and a deconstructed pipe organ that you can walk inside (prepare to be enveloped by sound).
The back room of the museum contains historic photographs and artifacts to give visitors a sense of the types of workers and machinery that ran the factory between the years 1846 and 1960.
Know Before You Go
The museum is open only in the summer months, May–October, during the weekends, Saturday and Sunday 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. A small donation is encouraged to help with upkeep.