Jacob Estey & the Estey Organ Company: Downtown Brattleboro

The Estey Organ Buildings, circa 1895.

The Story of Estey Organ

For nearly a century, the name Estey was synonymous with reed organs. The Estey Organ Company was recognized worldwide as a leader in instrument design, manufacturing, and marketing.

All photos courtesy of the Brattleboro Historical Society.

Cultural Influencer

Estey’s dominance in the market was due in large part to the company’s innovations in both design and marketing. Estey organs accompanied Christian missionaries throughout the world and spread the Brattleboro name far and wide.

“Jacob Estey’s use of period imagery was the most influential element in his advertising,” research leader Dennis Waring says, “but his exploitation of standard marketing phraseology—the largest, most perfect, new, improved, worldwide—made a deep impression on developing consumer mentality and advertising itself.”

Women of Estey

Jacob Estey’s progressive ethos helped shape the image of Vermont itself. He was recognized not only for business acumen but for his commitment to the town of Brattleboro and care and concern for his workers. The Estey Organ Company employed a large workforce, many of whom were highly specialized craftsmen. For many years Estey was the largest employer in the state of Vermont. Estey employed master woodcarvers, designers, engineers, and inventors, many of whom who came from Europe to work for Estey. Jacob Estey’s progressive views towards his workforce extended to female employees. Estey believed that women had the right to do any work for which they were capable, and that their compensation should be equal to their male counterparts. A permanent exhibit in the Estey Organ Museum documents the Women of Estey. 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 Organs

A 3-part audio story for the Brattleboro Words Trail

Part One, “The Organ Company,” gives a brief history of Jacob Estey’s Estey Organ Company.

Part Two, “The Estey Organ Museum,” is an introduction to the Estey Organ Museum, where visitors today can play organs and instruments made by the Estey Company.

Part Three, “The Estey Organ,” dives deep into the uniqe and ubiquitous sound of a 19th century Estey reed organ.

Brattleboro Students on the Estey Organ Company

A podcast on Estey’s early years by Brattleboro Area Middle School students taught by Joe Rivers, President of the Brattleboro Historical Society and Words Project Leadership Committee member:

On The Map

108 Birge Street, Brattleboro, VT

Abijah Prince Road

About the Research sites

The Brattleboro Words Project is working with the community to identify specific sites and themes significant to the study of words in Brattleboro and surrounding towns. Research Teams – classrooms/teachers, amateur historians, veterans, writers, artists and other community members — will produce audio segments and other work to be incorporated into audio walking, biking and driving tours tours.

Research Team Leader

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