Proud of the piano forte she and her husband Joseph donated to the Calder House Museum, Rose Funke of Lake Como says the rare piece is 161 years-old.


Proud of the piano forte she and her husband Joseph donated to the Calder House Museum, Rose Funke of Lake Como says the rare piece is 161 years-old.

Q. How did you acquire the Nuns and Clark piano forte?
A. The “piano was presented to Mary McGrath as a wedding gift by Jimmy McGrath, her husband. She was one of three young ladies who traveled up from New York City in order to meet three gentlemen recently ‘transplanted’ from Ireland ... object matrimony. Her sister Kate, met, fell in love and married Pete Madigan. Mary found Jimmy to her liking, but the third, unidentified young lady did an about-face and headed back to the city,” Rose said.
Q. When did you meet the McGraths?
A. Rose met the McGraths in Lake Como when she was about eight years-old; a love of music drew them together.
A fast friendship was formed and Mrs. McGrath and Rose spent many any hour entertaining Mr. McGrath with impromptu concerts.
Mr. McGrath was the official bell ringer at the Assumption BVM Church in Lake Como.
When Mrs. McGrath passed away in the 1940’s, Mr. McGrath offered to give Rose the piano, saying it had been his wife’s dying wish.
However, knowing its value, Rose insisted on buying it.
Much to her parents distress, she says, since she already had two pianos.
Calling it her “first independent purchase,” Rose later learned her parents had “contributed a tidy sum towards the purchase without her knowledge.”
She bought the piano in 1942.
Q. What made you decide to donate it?
A.  “It was a difficult decision to make,” Rose said.
Having suffered a heart attack, she hadn’t done much playing.
“I was thinking to give it to the Smithsonian Institute,” she shared.
However, a love for the rare piano and the McGraths had her wanting to keep it more local.
Rose says she knew she could never sell it, but “wanted to share its beauty and its history with others who appreciate music, fine instruments, antique masterpieces and local lore.”
So, she donated the history rich piece — which predates the Civil War —to the Equinunk Historical Society where it remains a main room attraction.