About

Foundry Hall is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Our Mission is to Build Community through Music and Art

Our Vision

  1. To continue supporting the creation of original works by diverse artists and to build new audiences for their work;
  2. To cultivate a local culture of creativity in performance art, literature, dance, music, and film in a safe, supportive, artist-focused environment;
  3. To encourage education in music, performing arts, and audio/visual production by providing facilities, resources and connections for mentorship and skill-sharing opportunities;
  4. To collaborate with and support local educational, community, cultural and performing arts organizations by providing programming as well as a venue for practice, performances and events.

Board of Directors (2018)

Lotte Resek – President
Michael Vanden Tak – Secretary
Ben Holt – Treasurer
Erica Huizenga – Director
Fatima Tucker – Director
Anna DeVries – Director
Andru Bemis – Director
Mitchell Graham – Director

If you have any questions about our board, board meetings or for any individual board member please contact us by email at foundryhall@gmail.com.

We are able to create all of the incredible community music projects, ongoing programming, festivals, year round concerts and the Riverfront Concert Series with grant funding, membership, donations and a group of dedicated volunteers!

Our board members are heavily involved in carrying out all of this work.  We couldn’t do it with out these major players, tho!  Larry and Beverly Brown (Jazz Fest), Paul Hogan (Open Mic), Joe Foster(Song Swap), Deborah Wesche (Hymn Sing),  Susan Woodhull (Membership coordinator), Wolfgang Alas (everything!), Denise Hartmann (website, tech).

And thank you to our group of supporting actors!  Andy Baker, Ron Van Lente, Kathy Caldwell, Gary MacMillan, Beth Ann Pearce, Linda Baker, Jim Baker, Victoria Beck, Julian Lauzzana, Gail Lauzzana, Suzie Blair, Julie and David Ludwig, Sandra Tyrell, Erin and Scott Zoet, Ruby and Joe Vandenberk,  Dan Pierce, Craig, Richard and Sandra Edwards, Karen and Guy Stinson, Dan Smith,  Louise Wepfer, Tino Caviggiola, Peter Loomans…

…and maybe you!  We can always use more enthusiastic volunteers to help for one time  events or help us on a regular basis.  Join us in creating community with music and art!

Our History:

Founded in October 2007 by South Haven resident and touring musician, Andru Bemis, Foundry Hall is a grassroots organization dedicated to continuing South Haven’s authentic cultural heritage by providing a venue for the creation, practice, and presentation of original live music and the performing arts.   For seven years Foundry Hall  rented a 10,000 square foot historic building at 422 Eagle Street in downtown South Haven, where it hosted more than 200 events annually.

The organization moved when the Eagle street location was sold in December of 2015. . Foundry Hall moved into office space attached to the Warren Senior Center at the end of 2015 and spent the next 20 months working to build an education program as well as using the Warren Center to present concerts and have 5 monthly programs.  It was decided that the all-volunteer organization could not make ends meet and needed to make a change so in August of 2016 Foundry Hall moved out of the Warren Center and is now operating out of a volunteer’s home. Doug Peterson still teaches in town at the First Congregational Church and Foundry Hall still gladly helps students find teachers like Doug and others in the community.

Foundry Hall works with other organizations and community members to present live music including the South Haven Center for the Arts, the Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum and the Scott Club.  The Black River Tavern generously lends us their downstairs venue for our monthly Open Mics as well as the occasional concert.

More History

Foundry Hall history - Niffenegger's Auto SalesEarly 1900s: the Niffenegger family builds one of the nation’s first Ford dealerships at the corner of Center and Eagle Streets.

South Haven’s resort industry — begun in the mid-1800s at the home of Mrs. H. M. Avery — is already in full swing; thousands of visitors arrive daily by steamship and train to enjoy a memorable vacation. Entertainment choices include nightly live performances at theaters, pavilions, extravagant resorts; an amusement park with a roller coaster; an opera house; and one of the largest indoor dance halls in the country.

Although the resort industry is a tremendous boon to South Haven, its impact is felt for only a few months each summer. To remedy the situation, the Board of Trade (later renamed the Chamber of Commerce) is instrumental in bringing several major industries to the city. These include the Cable-Nelson Piano, S.E. Overton, and Casavant Organ Companies, all dedicated to building some of the era’s finest musical instruments and accessories.

1912: Casavant Co. builds 52 pipe organs at its South Haven factory before the war brings production to a halt in 1918. Remaining employees use their unique knowledge of acoustical enclosures to build RCA Victor phonograph cabinets for a time, before closing the factory entirely.

1925: S.E. Overton Co. builds a new 130,000 square foot factory to accommodate increased production of its highly popular “knock-down” piano bench, as well as more than 800 piano hammer sets per day, and one and a half million phonograph legs yearly.

1926: Everett Piano Co. of Boston, Massachusetts, moves its manufacturing operations to South Haven after purchasing Cable-Nelson.

1954: Hammond Organ Co. acquires both Everett and Cable-Nelson and starts also building Hammond pianos at the South Haven factory.

Foundry Hall history - A&P GroceryMid-1950s: Thomas Samson purchases the building at the corner of Center and Eagle Streets from the Niffenegger family, and starts Samson Auto Sales.

1957: Samson Auto Sales’ showroom and sales area are demolished for a parking lot, and the rear half of the dealership is remodeled for an A&P grocery store, which opens in 1959.

1968: the A&P relocates to Huron Street. Bohn Aluminum & Brass Corporation, which operates a local foundry manufacturing aluminum pistons for the automotive industry, converts the former A&P and adjacent facilities into a machine plant and offices.

1973: Yamaha acquires both Everett and Cable-Nelson, and continues to manufacture Everett pianos in the South Haven factory alongside its own U.S.-made Yamaha pianos.

1986: Yamaha enters a manufacturing agreement with the Baldwin Piano & Organ Co., moves its operations to Thomaston, Georgia, and permanently shuts down the South Haven piano factory.

Early-1990s: Bohn Aluminum & Brass downsizes and closes its Eagle Street factories and offices. S.E. Overton Co. also closes.

Foundry Hall front1995: the owners of Wolverine Hardware purchase the now-vacant Bohn Aluminum building for use as extra warehouse and storage space.

2001: a group of local music aficionados associated with the Blue Star Music Camps rent the former Bohn building and extensively renovate it, transforming it into a music venue and educational camp. The facility operates under several names before closing in 2007.libraryeverett2

Mid-2000s: Everett Piano factory is demolished for residential development.  You can find the last Everett Piano built here is South Haven at the South Haven Memorial Library, donated to the City of South Haven  by the Everett Piano Company (then owned by Yamaha) September 25th, 1986. Inside the removable cabinet pieces you will find the names of the employees that worked in the factory, many of whom are our neighbors and friends in the community.

2007: Foundry Hall begins operations at 422 Eagle Street, the former home of: Eagle Street Theatre, Ascensions, Blue Star Theatre, Blue Star Music Camp, Wolverine Hardware, Bohn Aluminum & Brass Co., A&P, Samson’s Auto Sales, and Niffenegger’s Auto Sales.

Present: Notable South Haven-built Casavant organs still in use include the 1916 Opus 37 at First Church of Christ Scientist in Rochester, New York, and 28 stops of the fully restored Bryan Concert Organ (1914 Opus 553) at Jacoby Symphony Hall in Jacksonville, Florida. The former organ factory has been converted to luxury condos. The S.E. Overton factory built in 1925 still stands, and is largely neglected. Many former employees of Bohn Aluminum, S.E. Overton, and the Everett/Yamaha Piano Companies are still in town and more than happy to share their stories.

For more South Haven history, visit the Historical Association of South Haven, and http://www.south-haven.com/pages/history.html (from which this page borrows liberally).

2 Replies to “About”

  1. I have an S. E. Overton Company Piano Bench with the inscription plate still attached to it. It has a difficult to read patent #, probably either 128897 or 122897. Can any one of those still in town former Overton employees able to tell me anything about this bench? Thank you.

    1. I’m sorry, we don’t know anyone that worked at the Overton factory. There are probably some around, maybe the Historical Association of South Haven could help?

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