This piano once resided in the historical Pilgrim Baptist Church of Chicago, Illinois, where it was used as a rehearsal piano by music director, Thomas A. Dorsey, the "Father of Gospel Music." Hired by influential pastor Junius C. Austin in the 1930s, Dorsey helped make Pilgrim one of the largest churches in the country. With Dorsey as its music director, the church became known as the birthplace of gospel music. Albertina Walker, Mahalia Jackson, Sallie Martin, Aretha Franklin, James Cleveland, The Staple Singers and The Edwin Hawkins singers are among those who have sung at the church. Famous members of the congregation include Bessie Coleman. When Pilgrim purchased new instruments for its music program, this piano was given to Pastor Austin. It would be played by Dorsey and others when they visited his home.
This piano is paneled with wood and structured around a cast iron frame. When the piano's fallboard is open, the piano 'name' or maker is seen in the center of the fallboard's underside in stylized gold lettering which reads [Conover]. The piano has all 88 keys of its key board still in place. There is also a small locking mechanism in the center of the key bed. The cast iron frame is tinted gold with manufacturer and patent information stamped throughout in varying methods and sizes. On the second frame metal bar closest to the keyboard there is raised text which reads [CUPOLA CONSTRUCTON BELL METAL FRAME CAPO D'ASTRO BRIDGE]. In a small triangular depression in the frame on the right, close to the keyboard, is the manufacturer's stamp as well as the piano serial number [66/CONOVER/MFR'D BY/The/Cable/Company/Chicago/259608]. On the top right side of the plate are the patent dates stamped near the treble bridge [1 6 20/PAT. 11 23 20/5 3 21]. On the front right portion of the plate is the name of the frame style in script lettering surrounded in an oval of stylized foliage [FAIRY GRAND]. On the wood of the sound board, centered above the hammer rail, is the soundboard trademark logo in a dark green rectangle with square, gold corners. The letters inside the logo are gold [CROWNSTAY/REG. U.S. PAT. OFF.]. In the middle of the left edge of the frame is the stamped number . At the back edge of the frame are additional stamped numbers [7-17]. The top board prop for the lid is located on the right side of the frame.
Wood and vinyl piano bench with the seat as a lid for a storage compartment contained within the bench. Bench seat is covered in a bright orange vinyl material. The bench has four (4) legs that taper down and are capped with metal. The storage compartment inside the bench is divided in half by a small wood rib. The lid of the bench is attached by two (2) hinges on the inside. A small orange paper with a lot number attached to the PL front leg on the outside.