Piano keys on burnt orange Longhorn piano

Antique piano turns burnt orange

The Craigslist ad caught Monte Cary’s attention—For Sale. Thos. Goggan & Bros. Piano. Asking $150.00. Monte realized the historical significance of the instrument after reading the Texas State Historical Association quote included in the ad: “at least one known piano still in use in Texas in the twenty-first century has the name ‘Thos. Goggan & Bros.’ and a four-digit number cast in iron in the sound board.” Monte had restored dozens of pianos and was always on the lookout for an interesting piece. So he made the purchase and later found out the seller had purchased the piano for $3,000 at a Goodwill auction but now wanted to make space in his garage.

After years of sitting idle, the piano’s finish was peeling, and many keys wouldn’t play. Monte and a friend, Joseph Fiacco, got to work on the turn-of-the-century instrument, removing, cleaning, lubricating, and replacing moving parts. Slowly but surely, the keys began to shine again, the soul of the strings soared, and life was restored to the piano. “I sanded and polished the key tops. I leveled the keys and got it playing again,” says Monte. “After I tuned it, I was amazed at how beautiful it sounded.”

Monte and Joseph decided to take the restoration one step further by making the piano uniquely Texan. “We painted the case burnt orange and white to pay homage to the University of Texas,” Monte explains. “Before long, we decided to go all out and cover some of the panels with longhorn cowhide, paint accents on the piano, and add Texas-style knobs. I found a vintage stool with ball-and-claw legs, added a matching cowhide cover, and painted it to match. A real set of longhorns on the top just may make this instrument the most uniquely Texas piano in the world.”

The restored Thos. Goggan & Bros. piano is currently on display at The Studio in Cedar Park.

To learn more about the history of Thos. Goggan & Bros. musical instruments, visit www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/xmtwc.

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