Thomas Shaw Music Store

Old Cowtown Museum Tour

Thomas Shaw Music Store

Wichita, Kansas 67203, United States

Created By: Old Cowtown Museum


The Thomas Shaw Music Store located in the Business District of Old Cowtown Museum represents an opportunity to fill a growing cultural need.

Music is essential for a community cultural life, public as well as private. In the public, music was used to serenade the cowboys, celebrate the arrival of the railroad and encourage those in the saloon to spend more. There were traveling troupes as well as local groups that performed classical music, opera, and minstrel shows.

Music at Victorian home centered around the parlor, though front porch playing was not unheard of. It was part of a young woman’s training to learn how to play an instrument, preferably the parlor organ or the piano. Women and music were said to be the “twin souls of creating civilization and man” and music was medicine for the soul. Parlor organs were more prevalent as they did not require tuning and could withstand the wild fluctuations in weather and temperature.

In response to another towns’ boasting, according to Marshall Murdock, by 1873, Wichita was the most musical town

There is a town -situated at the confluence of the Little and Great 'Arkansas River, which has three brass band, four orchestra band, an Italian street band, and two concert saloons, all of which not only torture the zephyrs by night but the air by day. In addition this three-year town has a grinding organ which plays the mockingbird most deliciously for a "six legged and no armed .show,'' over on the corner, forty fiddles, several pianos, and innumerable organs, all operated upon independently as the whim ‘seizes the proprietors,

With no means of electronic transmission, radio or mp3, people relied on sheet music to find new music. It was printed in newspapers and periodicals as well as by itself.

The Thomas Shaw Music Store opened in 1884 at 113 E. Douglas. In 1886, he moved his store to 129 N. Main where it was known as one of the finest music stores in the West. Shaw also established one of the first orchestras in Wichita. He became known as the “Music Man of Wichita.”

This point of interest is part of the tour: Old Cowtown Museum Tour


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