Traveling piano — possibly the North Olympic Peninsula’s oldest — finds new Port Townsend home
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Pianist Matt Conyers, who performs under the name Jack Argyle, plays the 120-year-old piano that has now found a home in the Cellar Door in Port Townsend. -- Photo by Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — An antique piano, perhaps the first ever in Port Townsend and possibly the oldest on the North Olympic Peninsula, has found a new home at a restaurant/bar, the latest stop in its journey around downtown that has lasted for about 130 years.

“We are the stewards,” said Dominic Svornich, co-owner of the Cellar Door, located downstairs at 940 Water St. “We will keep its legacy alive, and it won’t ever go far.”

Svornich said the piano was built in 1878 in New York City by Ernest Gabler & Brother.

A few years later, it was taken to Port Townsend in a ship that sailed around Africa to get to the West Coast because the Panama Canal had not yet been constructed.

“We think this could have been the first piano in Port Townsend,” Svornich said.

The piano found its way into the Town Tavern at 639 Water St., where it stayed until 1996 when new owners sought to remove it, and it was rescued by Port Townsend resident Ben Thomas, Svornich said.

Thomas gave it to musician Matt Sircely for safekeeping, he added.

Sircely kept the piano until he moved in 2009.

He passed it on to Anna Nasset when she took over the Artisans on Taylor gallery.

When Nasset closed the gallery this month, the piano was again homeless.

Nasset offered the piano to Svornich, who began to present live music in the club in September.

Two weeks ago, Svornich and a moving crew strapped the 550-pound piano, which has a metal soundboard, to a dolly and moved it around the corner to the club, playing it all the while.

“We had a lot of musicians who wanted to play piano in here but weren’t interested in an electric piano,” Svornich said.

“It’s in great shape, although some of the keys need repair, and we’d like to bring the wood back to its original luster.”

Svornich said Thomas, who now lives in Portland, Ore., still “owns” the piano but wants to keep it in town.

“It will stay in Port Townsend,” Svornich said.

“It’s one of those things that is passed along and bequeathed to a new owner every so often.”

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: October 19. 2013 6:37PM
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