logo

245 Main Street

Deep River, CT. 06417

Curator Hours

10 AM - 12 Noon

Tuesday & Thursday

245 Main Street

Deep River, CT 06417

Curator Hours

10 AM - 12 Noon

Tuesday & Thursday

History of the Bleach House

The Bleach House

The Bleach House on the premises is a small section of a former Pratt, Read Bleach House which was used for sun bleaching (whitening) ivory and was reconstructed on the Stone House grounds by William Nickse and Joseph Miezejeski in 1998. The outdoor exhibit is available for viewing daily during daylight hours.

History of Bleach Houses

A visitor travelling through Deep River in the late 1800’s would often see long triangular glass houses dotted around the landscape and question what they were. Native ivory being prepared to become ivory keys for pianos were laid out horizontally on racks inside these houses for bleaching and whitening by the sun. Pratt, Read workers kept logs to predict when these keys would be ready to ship based on the meterological forecasts day by day.

bleachhousesThe trip to the bleach house was one of the final stages in the process of ivory becoming a piano key. George Read kept the diary recording hours of day light exposure to the ivory pieces. Of course he died in 1856 so someone had to do it after him. Pieces stayed in the bleach house for 21 days. They were then brought back into the factory to be glued onto the wooden keys then on to final assembly.