Heritage, 2011, Volume 4 Page: 30
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A lurricalle-destroyed Steinway lives on as a work of art. Br ,: Rosa sto/
Like many historic properties in Galveston, The Grand
1894 Opera House suffered extensive damage from Hurricane
Ike on September 13, 2008. The theatre's distinctive heart-
pine woodwork and reproduction carpeting were fouled by
rising water, sewage, and sludge. Contemporary theatrical
systems were destroyed, and one of the Opera House's most
memorable voices was silenced forever-the nine-foot
Steinway Concert Grand Piano.
During the hurricane, the theatre's Steinway piano was in
the orchestra pit, which was submerged under ten feet of salt
water and contaminants. The instrument was deemed irrepa-
rable, and while The Grand 1894 Opera House searched for
its replacement, Executive Director Maureen Patton and local
metal artist John Weber met to consider a way to salvage part
of the piano as a remembrance of the magnificent perfor-
mances that featured the piano since 1982. The result of their
conversations was the design and creation of a remarkable
piece of art, which functions today as an elegant conference
room table in the administrative offices of The Grand.
"John Weber was the perfect partner for this project,"
explains Maureen Patton. "In 1983, John and his team of
artisans created reproductive woodworking throughout The
Grand, for which he received recognition from the Texas
Historical Commission. Today, as a metal artist, John often
includes both wood and metal in his sculptures and func-
tional art pieces, which are created primarily from salvaged
and industrial items."
Creating the theatre's Steinway conference table was a chal-
lenging process. The piano's 400-pound cast iron plate, also
known as its harp, was badly scratched and discolored due to
salt-water exposure. Once separated from the damaged strings
and mechanisms, the harp was removed from the piano case
and taken to an auto paint shop. There it was cleaned and
painted to match its original color and finish. Weber's design
included "floating" the harp below a sheet of 3/4-inch beveled
glass. One of the most extraordinary moments in the process
occurred when The Grand's executive director proposed that
the glass table top, rather than being rectangular in form, be
30 TEXASHERITAGE I Volume 4 2011
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, 2011, Volume 4, periodical, 2011; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth254223/m1/30/: accessed April 24, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.