Samuel S. Stewart and America’s Banjo
Date:Wed, 10/10/2018 - Fri, 9/27/2019
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Samuel S. Stewart (1855-1898) was born in Philadelphia on January 8th, the son of Dr. Franklin Stewart, and at a very early age took a keen interest in banjo performance after hearing Lew Simmons (b. August 28, 1837) perform “Bell Chimes” at Philadelphia’s Eleventh Street Opera House. Unhappy with the quality of music that was taught by most banjo instructors, Stewart opened his own banjo company in one room on Philadelphia’s 833 Race Street in 1878, and began to elevate the banjo from its lowbrow minstrel legacy to become an iconic symbol of American middle-class gentility. While Stewart is frequently discredited as the modernizer of America’s banjo construction, all scholars recognize him as a master salesman who excelled at advertising his instruments and teaching methods through the endorsements of such leading banjo artists as Horace Weston, America’s most accomplished African-American banjo artist of the nineteenth century. This exhibit explores the legacy of America’s diverse banjo traditions and the extraordinary elegance and craftsmanship of Samuel S. Stewart’s banjos during the nineteenth century.
Cost: Free and open to the public
Hours of Operation
Monday – Tuesday and Thursday – Friday: 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM and 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Wednesday: 10:00 AM – 12 PM; 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
CLOSED: Saturdays, Sundays and some Federal Holidays, but can be opened for special tours with advanced request.