For nearly a century, the name 'Estey' was synonymous with reed organs and a progressive family that helped shape the identity of Brattleboro and Vermont. The Estey Organ Company was recognized worldwide as a leader in instrument design, manufacturing, and marketing and may have given Henry Ford the idea for assembly-line manufacture. Estey organs accompanied Christian missionaries throughout the world and, since every organ prominently featured ‘Brattleboro, Vermont' above the keyboard, the organs spread the town’s name globally. Jacob Estey’s use of words made a deep impression on the development of advertising itself, according to researcher Dennis Waring. Jacob was recognized not only for business acumen but for his commitment to the town of Brattleboro. For many years Estey was the largest employer in the state of Vermont. He took good care of his workforce. He hired many women and paid them wages equal to men for comparable work. Many workers were highly specialized craftsmen who came from Europe, founding the enclave known as 'Swedeville' and contributing to the international cast of the town. Estey also underwrote the first building in the U.S. intended specifically for the higher education of black women in Raleigh, North Carolina. The Estey Organ Museum is now housed in one of the iconic, historic Estey Organ Factory buildings renovated to new uses today. It seems to be one of the very few musical instrument museums in the world where visitors are encouraged to sit down and play.
Audio Production: Sally Seymour
Research & Commentary: Dennis Waring & Barbara George
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