Antique Reed Organs

- Restoration News
- Featured Organ

Hours of Operation

Sunday 1:00pm to 5:00pm

May thru October

Lee Conklin's first organ The Lee Conklin Antique Reed Organ Museum proudly displays about 95 fully restored and working antique reed organs. Visitors to the museum are often treated to the beautiful sounds of these antique instruments. Lee Conklin's first organ to be collected was this cottage organ manufactured by Mason & Hamlin of Boston, MA in 1884. A painting of Lee Conklin is displayed on the wall above the organ.

***** Watch the Rodney Jantzi Museum Video (10 Minutes) *****

This video features several of our organs with Rodney playing them so you can hear their unique sounds,
moments from a restoration workshop, and some footage of our second floor exhibits.

Restoration News

Restoration workshops are held under the leadership of Don Glasgow of Archibald, OH and John Hasting of Ellsworth, MI each an expert in the field of antique reed organ restoration. Workshops are held one weekend a month. Please see our calendar of events for specific dates and times. Anyone with an interest in reed organ restoration is welcome to come and learn by doing.

We work on several organs at a time depending on the participation that session. Typical activities include repairing bellows, replacing valve faces, tuning, cleaning, and case restorations. One of our biggest current projects is restoring an Angelus Player Organ by Wilcox and White c. 1900.

Organ Workshops 2016

9:00 am- 5:00 pm
Herrick Building next to the Museum

March 18-19
April 15-16
May 20-21
June 17-18
July 22-23
August 12-13
September 16-17
October 14-15

Please contact Sharon Folkerth for more information or call her at 517-531-5005.

We regret that we are unable to provide appraisals of reed organs.

Featured Organ

Elbow Melodeon

One of the recent additions to our organ collection is an Elbow Melodeon built in 1845 by J. Foster of Keene, New Hampshire. Keith Heiss of Nashville, MI donated this organ to the Museum in 2008 and needed repairs were made in our Organ Workshop before it was put on display. The first Elbow Melodeons were built around 1810 and they continued to be produced until the middle of the century.

As originally built, the organ is put on a table or a person’s lap to play it. Air is forced through reeds to produce the musical notes by means of bellows. The bellows are divided into two parts, both parts hinged at one end and extending the length of the instrument, one above the other. The lower part of the bellows is the pump and has a spring to push it open. The upper part is an air reservoir. The reeds and keyboard are mounted on top of the bellows and each key opens a valve that admits air to its reed. The left hand operates the bellows and the right hand plays the keyboard that is constantly moving up and down with the movement of the bellows. The Elbow Melodeon pictured here was permanently mounted on a table in the early 1900’s and a foot pedal and cord were added to operate the bellows.

The organ is called an “Elbow Melodeon” because the base of the organ and the keyboard look like an arm flexing at the elbow when it is played. Sometimes, it is also called a “Rocking Melodeon”

The music you are listening to was recorded by our resident organist Frances Hartmann. The selection is called "When You and I Were Young Maggie".