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The Preservationist

Bradford Music Hall marries local man’s passion for history, music

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Bradford Music Hall Exterior

Jim Hammann sits outside the former Bradford United Methodist Church - now the Bradford Music Hall - on June 9. He’s spent three years transforming the building into a place for music and history appreciation.

The last thing Jim Hammann needed was another pipe organ.

Nevertheless, there he was in Blue Earth, Minn., in April 2017, at an auction of dozens of pianos and organs, watching instruments go for $10 and $15 each when he knew they were worth much more. The city, which had come into ownership of the instruments, needed to get rid of them – and quickly. Among the pieces headed to the auction block was a pipe organ that had been built in 1910 by George Kilgen & Sons of St. Louis. Hammann knew what it was worth, and he knew it was likely that the orphaned instrument would meet its end for lack of bids.

Jim Hammann Pipe Organ

Jim Hammann bought a pipe organ at an auction in 2017, with no plans for its future. That is, until he bought the Bradford United Methodist Church and his idea for the Bradford Music Hall was born.

Bradford Music Hall

The former Bradford United Methodist Church, built in 1912, was sold by the congregation to Jim Hammann in 2017, shortly after Hammann bought a pipe organ at an auction in Minnesota. He has since turned the church into what he calls the Bradford Music Hall.

Jim Hammann Clavichord

Jim Hammann plays his clavichord for a group of sixth-graders from Riverbend Middle School's music appreciation class on May 6, 2021. 

Jim Hammann Piano

Jim Hammann demonstrates a piano’s Sostenuto pedal to a group of sixth-graders from Iowa Falls’ Riverbend Middle School, showing that the notes’ sound can continue even after the keys have been released.

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