Antique Pianos Destroyed in Fire

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WATSONTOWN -- A piano teacher and collector in Northumberland County lost some of his prized possessions in a fire over the weekend.

Nine pianos and one organ were destroyed or damaged, along with family pictures, sheet music and more.

The homeowner has more than 40 pianos, but he says the ones that were destroyed were “the cream of the crop,” all of them antiques.  He estimates the value of the instruments at about $400,000.

John Ravert has played the piano his whole life and taught lessons for almost 50 years. He owns more than 40 pianos in his house near Watsontown and his studio. Over the weekend some of his most valuable instruments were destroyed by fire.

On Saturday night, Ravert and his wife put a roll of music on a player piano so they could listen as they fell asleep, something they did often to relax. The couple woke up and smelled smoke.

"Turned the corner, looked in the studio and the piano had run and the motor got hot and set fire to the piano," Ravert said.

Ravert said the piano that started the fire was in the middle of the room. It quickly spread to the piano that was right next to it. Within minutes the entire room was in flames.

"The piano was like a bonfire and the flames were touching the ceiling in the studio," Ravert said.

Nine of Ravert's most valuable pianos and one organ were heavily damaged. Family pictures, sheet music and antique lamps are also gone. He estimates the loss to be about $400,000.

"The pianos will have to be replaced. A large organ will have to be replaced, concert grands that I practice on, a large loss of musical instruments," Ravert said.

Ravert's large collection of pianos was featured on Newswatch 16 in happier times. Mike Stevens took a trip to Ravert's house in 2004.

Ravert says despite the loss of much of his collection of instruments, he is grateful the damage was not worse.

"Happy to be alive. I'm thankful to the Lord for that," Ravert said.

Ravert has insurance, and says he will fix the pianos that can be fixed. At least two of the most valuable ones in his collection are not repairable.