New life resounds from an old piano

Four stages of a piano repurposing project at Port Hadlock United Methodist Church.

By Pastor Scott Rosekrans

When I got assigned to my church eight years ago, I roamed around taking inventory and realized we had an overabundance of used Mister Coffee coffeemakers and aging pianos. The coffeemakers mysteriously disappeared, and I began paring down our collection of pianos.  When I finally got down to one piano in the sanctuary and one in the music room, I was faced with the issue of what to do with the one we couldn’t sell or give away. My best offer was from a guy who would charge us $500.00 to take it off our hands.

One member said he had previously dismantled a piano and offered to take it apart so we could take it to the landfill. I didn’t want to do that as I believed it was the piano used in our sanctuary when two smaller churches merged around 1959. I expect the piano had been used in one of the two churches, each just a few miles down the road when they were organized between 1900 and 1910.

I did some research and learned that our piano was made by the Everett Piano Company of Boston, MA. The Everett Piano Company was established in 1883 and made many of these pianos as they were very popular with schools and churches. I guessed that our piano was probably manufactured in the 1890s and envisioned it making the cross-country trip to Washington State on the Transcontinental Railroad. It had too much history to dismantle and discard on a trash heap. It seemed sacrilegious, if not downright blasphemous. Plus, I didn’t want to have one of those discussions about what happened to great aunt Ethyl’s piano that had been donated to the church decades earlier.

So, what to do? Well, I’m big into repurposing, so I thought, why not convert the piano into a desk for the pastor? Every church has one, so I approached my head trustee, Don Olsen, who is very talented and told him about my idea after assuring him that no was an acceptable answer.  That got his creative juices flowing, and he said he’d think about it, although I could tell the wheels were already turning.

The deconstructing soon began removing the keyboard and the guts of the piano, which were very heavy. He then made a desktop at just the right height, made two drawers cleverly using that part of the piano that comes down to cover the keyboard and even installed underlighting at each end. It was my turn to sand down years of polish and grime gently. It wasn’t new, so I aimed to ensure its beauty and history showed through.

This piano was a piece of artwork with all the attention to detail, which we didn’t want to lose.  After some light sanding, I found a stain that matched the original finish and then applied a satin polyurethane coat to protect the new finish. The results exceeded my expectations, and it looks beautiful, especially in my recently remodeled office. It’s quite a conversation piece, and I am the first kid on my block to have one. What a blessing it is to have brought new life to an instrument that has served the faithful so well. It begs the question as to what it is in your life that can be repurposed to bring even more glory to God.

Scott Rosekrans serves as pastor to the people of Community United Methodist Church in Port Hadlock, Washington.

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  1. As a member of the church since 2009, I enjoyed the history of the piano and watched the transformation as the wires and hammers left, the dismantling of the keyboard, and finally the transformation from piano to desk. Pastor Scott has transformed our church to help many of the poorer individuals in our area to find socks, bedding, and clothing that is appreciated. My wife, Pat, helps out by washing some of the clothing and helps in sorting and discarding donated clothing. We are proud of our church and that others in the community help in providing money and help to give hope.
    Stephen and Pat Chase

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