Travels of the Harmonium

  • Post author:
  • Post category:History

Those of you who have visited our museum may have seen our harmonium reed organ. However, of those who have seen it, only a percentage have read the story posted above it explaining how we obtained it. Even if you did read it, there is still part of the story you haven’t heard.

The harmonium was built in the mid 1800s in Paris, France. It was purchased by the Stanley family of Worcestershire, England. In 1889, the Stanley family moved to the town of Fairview, in what is now the northwestern part of Costa Mesa. The harmonium traveled to California on a ship via Cape Horn at the southern tip of South America. The Stanleys moved to Santa Ana in 1901 and much later to Northern California, taking the harmonium with them.

Let us now fast forward 110 years. One of our research and cataloging volunteers is Dave Rusher. His wife Louise just happens to be a cousin of the Stanleys. It was through that connection that the Stanley family decided to donate the Harmonium to the Historical Society.

Arrangements were made to have the harmonium transported the 440 miles via a trucking company from Fiddletown to Costa Mesa. In September of 2010, the harmonium was finally back in Costa Mesa after some 120 years.

So come down and see a really old piece of Costa Mesa history.

— Bob Palazzola