Home > Research Projects > Pianos > Farmington Piano
Description by Dwight Newton, 2006.
Farmington Historic Home in Louisville was the center of a 19th-century hemp plantation belonging to John and Lucy Speed. Is is designed from a plan by Thomas Jefferson and was completed in 1816 using slave labor. The house is nicely restored with original paint colors, historic wallpaper and carpets, and furnished with Kentucky furniture and other antiques from the period. Abraham Lincoln, a close friend of John Speed's son Joshua, spent about three weeks at Farmington in 1841.
From the Farmington website:
"The Speeds were an educated and cultivated family, fond of music, literature and good conversation. The family so loved music that for several years they sponsored Anton Phillip Heinrich, a Bohemian composer. While living at Farmington he created a number of his famous works which appeared in his collection, The Dawning of Music in Kentucky. ...He no doubt influenced John Speed's eldest daughter Mary, who was an accomplished pianist and composer."
A. P. Heinrich later lived in Lexington for a short time where he is known to have presented the third performance anywhere in America of a Beethoven Symphony (1817). It is highly likely that he and the Speed family played on a pianoforte very similar to the Astor-Horwood now residing at Farmington.
This pianoforte is not original to the house, but is of appropriate vintage. Documentation suggests that it was originally in Ohio.
The piano case has been restored, but in the process the original name cartouche over the keyboard was replaced with a hand painted rendering of the original, but without the actual name. Documentation at Farmington indicates that it is made by Astor & Horwood, and this is certainly a possibility. There is a serial number 5217 in this piano.
Compare the repainted name board on this piano...
With the name board on the Astor-Horwood at Polk House in Tennessee.
But see also the other name boards.
The English double action is in very bad shape and has never been restored.
The interior is very dirty and there are water stains on the soundboard. The piano is single strung throughout, which is very unusual for an English piano of this vintage.
Copyright © 2006 by Dwight Newton. All rights reserved.
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