Published: Fri Dec 12, 2003A large concert grand piano once again graces the living room of Walton House, thanks to the generosity of Dr. Walter Derryberry.
Derryberry, son of former Tennessee Tech University president Everett Derryberry and first lady Joan Derryberry, said it has long been his intention to see that Walton House again be home to a grand piano. A restored Blüthner piano, built in Leipzig, Germany, in 1889 and valued at $35,000, was delivered to the house in time for holiday celebrations.
“When my parents lived at Walton House, there was always a piano in the living room,” said Derryberry. “This gift will permanently remain in the house for the enjoyment of the current and future presidents, their families and guests.”
TTU’s First Lady Gloria Bell said she and Derryberry had often discussed their desires to have a grand piano become a part of the home’s permanent collection of furniture.
“We’ve talked about signature furniture pieces, including a grand piano, that would honor the history of Walton House,” said Bell. “We are so pleased and grateful that this beautiful instrument is now part of the president’s home.”
Derryberry’s history with the piano began in 1980 when he discovered it in a barn in Statesville, Ga.
“It actually had straw in it,” said Derryberry. “The Statesville community was very wealthy and cultured during the early part of the century, and many valuable pianos have been found in the area.”
After hiring a Spring Hill dealer to repair and restore the piece, Derryberry placed the piano in his home until its recent move.
The company that manufactured the piano, Blüthner, was founded in1853 and became the official supplier to many European royal courts. The Derryberry piano features Blüthner’s patented Aliquot System, in which an additional fourth string in the treble section is attached directly to the bridge and not struck by hammers. The result is a warm, romantic sound for which the pianos are known.
“I hope this gift encourages others to donate similar quality pieces of furniture to Walton House so that we can establish a permanent collection of pieces that will remain in the home,” said Derryberry.