1935 Steinway Model S

1935 Steinway Model S


The Steinway model S is the perfect piano for a room where space is at a premium but the world's finest tone is required. The diminutive S is a brilliantly designed instrument producing a full large sound from a small platform. This beautiful piano is one of the very first of the model S to be made after its introduction by Steinway in 1935. It is in spectacular original condition including its walnut stained mahogany finish and perfect ivory keys. Remarkably it is still in the posession of its original family; it was purchased new in San Francisco by Ernest and Louise Swingley - please read their story below as told by their granddaughter. Size 5ft.1in. Serial number 280906.

This beautiful Steinway Baby Grand piano was purchased in 1935 by San Francisco residents Ernest and Louise Swingley. Although it was the depths of the Depression, they had recently purchased a home in the Balboa Terrace District next to St. Francis Wood.  Louise, born into a hardscrabble farming family in Northern California, was determined to live of life of style which included nothing less than Persian carpets, a Waterford chandelier, and, of course, a Steinway Baby Grand piano.

Louise had arrived in San Francisco in 1916, following her graduation from Eureka High School, and her goal was a nursing career.  She joined the St. Luke’s Hospital Registered Nurse training program, conducted at the hospital located at 27th Street and Valencia in the Mission District. Louise is described in the Swingley family memoirs as “an upbeat person who spoke in an enthusiastic manner, supplemented with an animated use of her hands. She was interested in, and had an instinct for, the San Francisco social scene. She was also style-conscious and dressed well in a subdued fashion – the prototype of the San Francisco matron who would venture downtown only if properly clad in a hat, gloves and often furs.”

Ernest had been transferred from Baltimore to San Francisco in 1921 and had previously served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps during World War I in the St. Mihiel area of France, where he was awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French Government. As he built a career in San Francisco, he excelled in the sale of surety bonds issued in the construction industry.

Louise and Ernest were wed in Grace Cathedral in 1922, and they enjoyed entertaining friends and family in their lovely home throughout their marriage. The Steinway has been in the family since it was first purchased, having been handed down to Louise’s daughter, and then her granddaughter. The ebony and ivory keys hold many stories of personal determination, visions of beauty, and the happy conversations and companionship of friends and family.

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