PORTSMOUTH – Straw­bery Banke Muse­um in Decem­ber de-acces­sioned an antique cab­i­net organ and trans­ferred the rare musi­cal instru­ment to the col­lec­tion of the Organ His­tor­i­cal Soci­ety.

Fol­low­ing ini­tial dis­cus­sions between the muse­um and soci­ety in July, Bill Czelus­ni­ak, vice chair­man of the board of direc­tors for the OHS and pres­i­dent of Czelus­ni­ak et Dugal, organ-builders inspect­ed the Hilbus organ stored in the museum’s Carter Col­lec­tions Cen­ter and deter­mined, with recon­di­tion­ing, it would be an excel­lent addi­tion to the society’s col­lec­tion for research and study by schol­ars of the instru­ment.

The instru­ment is a very antique’ one man­u­al track­er organ with two stops/​two ranks of pipes, foot-pumped of wind­ing and ful­ly enclosed in a sol­id wal­nut cab­i­net with var­i­ous open­ing doors and pan­els,” Czelus­ni­ak said. Even held pro­tec­tive­ly in its present con­di­tion, this instru­ment is a valu­able exam­ple of ear­ly Amer­i­can crafts­man­ship.”

Czelus­ni­ak added the Hilbus organ is a tremen­dous gift to the OHS, and a wor­thy occu­pant of the new OHS Head­quar­ters, Library and Archives in Stoneleigh at Vil­lano­va, Penn­syl­va­nia.”

Jacob Hilbus (1787 – 1858) was an immi­grant from West­phalia, Ger­many, who set­tled in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. and was known as an organ and piano tuner and a music teacher. He was also an organ builder, and from all indi­ca­tions, the first, active in the Wash­ing­ton, D.C. area in the ear­ly 1800s. Few of his works sur­vive. One was orig­i­nal­ly installed in Christ Church in Alexan­dria, Vir­ginia, some­where around 1811 or 1812 and is now in the care of the Smith­son­ian Insti­tu­tion. 

We at the Organ His­tor­i­cal Soci­ety are grate­ful for the gift and assure you that the organ will be in good hands for its safe­keep­ing and even­tu­al restora­tion,” said archivist Byrum Pet­ty.

The de-acces­sion of this piece for trans­fer to an orga­ni­za­tion that will max­i­mize the fur­ther study of the Hilbus in the for­mal research set­ting of the Organ His­tor­i­cal Soci­ety is exact­ly the kind of cura­tion and col­lab­o­ra­tion Straw­bery Banke seeks in all of the museum’s col­lect­ing and preser­va­tion efforts,” said Lawrence J. Yer­don, pres­i­dent and CEO of Straw­bery Banke. With­out spe­cif­ic Portsmouth con­nec­tions, the Hilbus organ belongs with the OHS.”

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