Aug. 22, 1912: During a ceremony dedicating Portland’s new City Hall, built to replace the one that burned in 1908, publishing tycoon and Portland native Cyrus H.K. Curtis, publisher of the Saturday Evening Post magazine, presents the city with a gift – the Kotzschmar organ, one of only two municipal organs in the United States.

Curtis commissioned the Austin Organ Co., of Hartford, Connecticut, to build the five-keyboard, 7,000-plus-pipe organ and install it in the City Hall auditorium. It is named for Hermann Kotzschmar, the city’s most prominent musician, whom Curtis’ father brought to Portland.

After a century of use, an artistic restoration of the organ is completed in 2015 at a cost of $2.6 million, more than half of which is financed through private fundraising.

Presented by:

Joseph Owen is an author, retired newspaper editor and board member of the Kennebec Historical Society. Owen’s book, “This Day in Maine,” can be ordered at To get a signed copy use promo code signedbyjoe at checkout. Joe can be contacted at: [email protected]


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