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Historic Bailey grand piano renovation efforts begin with temporary move to Anchorage

Historic Bailey grand piano renovation efforts begin with temporary move to Anchorage
Published: May. 6, 2022 at 9:12 AM AKDT
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PALMER, Alaska (KTUU) - After 16 years of sitting in the basement of a Palmer store, the historic Bailey grand piano has begun its restoration process.

On Thursday morning, the piano was moved from its current location in the basement of NonEssentials and brought to Anchorage for the restoration process to begin.

“Suddenly, it’s being moved, it’s being lifted up on its side, brought into a truck. It’s probably wondering what is going on,” Andrea Hackbarth, a member of the Palmer Arts Council, said.

For the past year, the Palmer Arts Council has been ramping up its fundraising efforts to complete renovations on the nine-foot-long concert grand piano that has a long history in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. The story goes that a man named Dr. C.C. Bailey hauled the piano up to the area in 1949 to entice his wife, a concert pianist, to move with him.

The piano sat for years at several locations around Palmer, including the state fairgrounds, before being moved to NonEssentials in 2006, Hackbarth said. In total, the council has raised around $43,000 so far for the renovations.

“It basically needs everything,” Hackbarth said. “... It has huge cracks in the soundboard, so that’s the biggest thing. It needs to be completely taken apart and have a new soundboard installed.”

Hackbarth said they are expecting renovations in Anchorage to take up to a year to complete. After they are completed, the grand piano will be returning to Palmer at a new, temporary location at the Palmer Senior Center. Hackbarth said many members of the senior center grew up listening to its music.

“They remember playing it, they remember taking piano lessons or listening to it at a concert, so that’s partly why we feel the Palmer Senior Center is a great place to put the piano because a lot of those people have personal connections to it,” Hackbarth said.

From there, the piano will eventually in the future be moved to the new performing art center that is currently in the works. Where the piano will continue to live as a gem in the Palmer community.

“It’s bringing a new life to the piano,” Hackbarth said. “Hopefully the piano will be, will come back and just have a new life and we’ll be very excited to be back in Palmer.”

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