Intricate craftsmanship on display at the Nevada City Music Hall

Not to be outdone by its neighbor, Virginia City, Nevada City has its own oddity: a collection of music machines. Player pianos to full blown orchestras are on display and some remain accessible to any loose change that you may wish to pop into their mechanized bellies.

This 89 Key Gavioli Fairground Organ was constructed circa 1900 and distinguishes itself with the hand carved art nouveau exterior. It is one of only a dozen such Gavioli Organs and the crown jewel of the Nevada City Music Hall collection

Charles and Sue Bovey, the same benefactors who preserved Virginia City in its shockingly period state, were avid collectors of music machines. Of course, there is the classic player piano but the collection included so much more, like a wide range of arcade machines circa-1900. Three of his Wurlitzer band organs and a Wurlitzer theatre organ are on display. But in particular, they had a sizable collection of 1890’s Gavioli organs from Paris.

This Wurlitzer Band Organ Style 180 is one of three existing Wurlitzer Band Organs. Constructed in 1929 by Rudolph Wurlitzer Company in New York, only a third of the original organ remains in this piece.

Intricate craftsmanship on display

Of particular size is the Gavolli military band organ, a 89-key house sized behemoth. It was made in Paris, France around 1880 and spans 27 feet in width, 12 feet tall, and 4 feed depth.

Today, his donation forms the largest public collection of automated music machines in North America. Admission comes pared with access to the entire Nevada City Museum, a collection of relocated or replica historic buildings. Be sure to have some loose change!

Inside the impressive collection of the Nevada City Music Hall.
Inside the impressive collection of the Nevada City Music Hall.

Lexi lives in a truck camper down by the river.

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