Events


Loading Events

“James Ashborn and America’s First Guitar Factory; How a Waterwheel on the East Branch of the Naugatuck River Changed History”

December 1 @ 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm


Free
CT United States

VIRTUAL PROGRAM
James Ashborn was a guitar, banjo, and string manufacturer who established America’s first guitar factory in Torrington Connecticut where, between 1842 and 1864, he produced approximately 12,000 instruments—triple that of his closest competitor, and at half the price. David Gansz, the foremost authority on Ashborn, will describe how Ashborn emigrated from England, worked for a New York retailer, and became associated with Asa Hopkin’s woodwind factory on the Naugatuck River at Fluteville (near Litchfield) before opening his own waterwheel-powered guitar production facility from which 7-10 specialized workers built and shipped his instruments to New York via the newly constructed Naugatuck Railroad.

Ashborn’s achievements will be shown against the backdrop of the industrial revolution, romanticism of all things Spanish in American culture, the advent of the guitar as a ‘parlor’ instrument for women, and minstrelsy as an emerging popular music fad.

The presentation will conclude with Guy Wolff playing some pieces on an Ashborn guitar.

David Gansz is a research scholar on the history of the guitar and the foremost authority on Ashborn. He authored several chapters in the book “Inventing the American Guitar: The Pre-Civil War Innovations of C.F. Martin and His Contemporaries” and he authored a bi-lingual essay in La Escuela Granadina de Guitarreros: The Granada School of Guitar-Makers, published by La Diputación de Granada in Spain. The foremost authority on James Ashborn, America’s first guitar maker, he wrote the Ashborn entry in The Grove Dictionary of American Music (Oxford University Press). He has lectured widely on the topic and is also has recorded a CD of his original solo acoustic guitar compositions. He is currently Director of the National Transportation Library at the US Department of Transportation in Washington, DC.

Guy Wolff is known across the world as a potter in the field of traditional New England pottery and it was this work that led to his interest in music of the period and eventually, to James Ashborn. He has since researched Ashborn and his musical instruments and now owns an Ashborn guitar and a reproduction Ashborn banjo.

Guy Wolff is known across the world as a potter in the field of traditional New England pottery and it was this work that led to his interest in music of the period and eventually, to James Ashborn. He has since researched Ashborn and his musical instruments and now owns an Ashborn guitar and a reproduction Ashborn banjo.

SPONSORED BY CT HUMANITIES

Organizer

Torrington Historical Society
Phone:
860-482-8260
Email:
torringtonhistorical@snet.net
Website:
www.torringtonhistoricalsociety.org

Venue

CT United States + Google Map

Sign Up For Email Updates