The Plumb Memorial Library has received many inquires over the years for information concerning the Sterling Piano Company and the Huntington Piano Company. This page represents the library’s collection and resources on this topic. We have made this page so that patrons can find the resources in one location.
Click on the images below for a larger version.
Images from a Huntington Piano Company pamphlet. We express our thanks to the Shelton Historical Society for their permission to use these rare images.
Images from "Evening Meditation" by William H. Fry and published by the Huntington Piano Company. Permission to post this sheet music courtesy of the Shelton Historical Society.
Images and information from Images of America: Shelton by the Shelton Historical Society
Caption on pg. 40 reads: "A Shelton saying was that along the canal everything was produced from "pins to pianos." The Huntington Piano Company, a subsidiary of the Derby-based Sterling Piano Company, was founded in 1894 to produce a more affordable piano. The building burned in 1922, forcing the company to close."
Images and information from pages 36-40 of Souvenir History of Derby and Shelton, Connecticut
Images and information from pages 132-133, 135, 137 of A Pictorial History of Shelton, CT.
Images and information from pages 22 and 278 ofTercentenary Pictorial and History of the Lower Naugatuck Valley
Images and information from pages 368-369 of History of the Old Town of Derby, Conn. 1642-1880
Image and information from pages 248 and 323 of Ansonia, Derby, Shelton & Seymour Directory 1896-97
Image from Birmingham, Derby, Ansonia & Shelton, Conn. Published by Robt. S. Gardiner of Birmingham, Conn. This small red book may be viewed in the History folder of the Shelton Files at the Plumb Memorial Library.
Image from "Milestones and Memories", October 9, 1963, The Suburban News Shelton, Ct., History Folder in Shelton File.
Information from page 61-62 of Valley Downtowns: A Historical Perspective
The Sterling Company was first organized in Birmingham, Derby, about 1868, having previously manufactured musical instruments in Ansonia. In Derby, the Company concentrated on making organs, and when pianos became popular twenty years later, the Company established a nearly world-wide reputation in the production of organs and pianos. The Sterling Company became one of the largest [establishments] of its kind in the country, and was Derby’s largest industry for many years.
Prior to its demolition, the Sterling Co. factory in Derby was located east of Water Street of the east side of the Canal.
The Company’s organizer and first president was Charles A. Sterling. His residence is located at 302-304 Caroline Street.
Rufus W. Blake was manager of the Company and was chiefly responsible for the Company’s efficient operation and growth. Under Mr. Blake’s management, the Company was able to overcome severe business losses sustained by the complete destruction of the factory by fire in 1875, and following its reconstruction, financial losses in 1887. Blake assumed the Presidency of the Company in 1887 and under his leadership the Company became Derby’s largest employer.
Mr. Blake developed the three cottages on Cottage Street, at 3-5, 10-12, and 14-16 Cottage Street; they are presumed the reason for the street’s name. Blake’s residence in Derby was located at 253 Elizabeth Street and this structure is presently the location of the Adzima Funeral Home.
Sources: Orcutt, p. 369; Rockey, pp.395, 443-445; Gillespie, pp.36-40; 1883 Map
The proximity of the Sterling and Blake residences together with the Blake cottages, are certainly a "Piano Block" in Derby’s downtown."
In the News…
Information from The Shelton Booster, October 15, 1910. Volume II, No. 27. On microfilm.
"Frank Goad has severed his connections with the Sterling Piano Co., of Derby, and has accepted a similar position with the Huntington Company in Shelton."
Information from The Shelton Times (formerly known as The Shelton Booster), Nov. 19, 1910. "Local and Personal" and "Derby Gleanings". On microfilm.
"The Huntington Piano Co. are rushed with work now, producing ninety of their excellent pianos a week. This sounds good doesn’t it?"
"It is said that Arthur Smith has gotten tired of being a "rubber" and has left the Sterling company."
Information from The Shelton Times, November 19, 1910. Volume II, No. 30. On microfilm.
"Albert Horton has entered the employ of the Sterling Co."
"William Keefe has left the employ of the [Sterling] Co."
Image is of an ad for the Sterling Opera House in The Shelton Booster, October 1909. Volume I, No. 11. On microfilm.
Links to more information on Sterling/Huntington Piano Co.
Howe Collection of Musical Instrument Literature Howe Collection at the University of Maryland information