The Hormel Historic Home and Paramount Theatre have teamed up to make use of a grand gift. Camille Anderson/

Archived Story

Hitting the right note

Published 7:01pm Saturday, July 28, 2012

Piano at home at the Paramount Theatre

This week the Paramount Theatre added something new to their stage: A 1919 restored Mason & Hamlin grand piano.

Paramount Theatre executive director Jennie Germain, front, and Historic Hormel Home executive director Laura Helle are pictured with the grand piano currently on loan to the Paramount from the HHH. - Camille Anderson/

The piano was donated to the Hormel Historic Home by MarySue Hormel Harris and then in turn was loaned to the Paramount Theatre.

MarySue’s grandfather, Ben Hormel, was the youngest brother of George A. Hormel. MarySue has given the Hormel Historic Home annual gifts from the MarySue Hormel Harris Trust.

Those gifts are designated for a piano, music programming and maintenance on the HHH.

The original piano at the HHH used in the living room area is a 1915 Mason & Hamlin piano, but it’s too big to move to the banquet room area.

“We elected to purchase an additional Mason & Hamlin piano for use in the banquet area.” said Laura Helle, the Executive Director from the Hormel Home.

The new 1919 Mason & Hamlin piano was purchased for $20,000 with the funds from the trust in the spring of 2012.

Knowing the new piano would not be used as much as they wanted, Helle thought it would be a good idea if they loaned the piano to the Paramount Theatre.

“We knew that our needs in the banquet hall would only be for 1-2 times per year,” Helle said. “We also knew that the piano at the Paramount was not top performance-quality and that they would be able to give a very good piano a good home and lots of play time.”

The HHH maintains ownership of the new piano and pays for insurance.

The Paramount uses the piano for rehearsals and performances as needed. The HHH will transport the piano back to their site as they need it in the banquet hall.

“Its a great way for the piano to be used,” Helle said.

Jennie Germain, the Executive Director at the Paramount Theatre, is very excited for the piano to be used at the theater.

“The piano is such a great addition,” Germain said. “The old feeling of the piano fits just right into the feeling of the Paramount.”

With the better quality piano that the Parmount has, they hope to see more concerts and pianist playing at the theater. Events have already been scheduled for the piano to be used.

Local pianists Scott Blankenbaker, Peter Jacobs, Peter Jacobs Combo, Shane DeSilva, Kalle Akkerman, Ezekiel Peters and Brian Johnson performed on the piano at the Paramount this past Wednesday.

The concert was the first revealing of the piano to the public.

As for the old piano at the Paramount? It’s still getting plenty of use.

The piano is being played by members of the Mower County Senior Center.

“It’s definitely a great addition to our dining room,” said Sara Schaffer, executive director of the Senior Center. “It’s so nice for the Paramount to think of us.

“It really draws people to come in,” she continued. “They come in at lunch to play, and the seniors love to listen.”

The giving just keeps on giving.







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