Venue – Our Storied Mason & Hamlin Piano

We believe the combination of fine art and fine entertaining is a natural fit.

Venue provides art patrons a fuller opportunity to enjoy and appreciate the beauty of the exhibited work while sipping a glass of select wine or an elegant cocktail and relaxing in a gallery environment at the end of the day.

20 North Gallery's storied 1912 Mason & Hamlin Piano
20 North Gallery’s storied 1912 Mason & Hamlin Piano

Venue is available for private rental, making this elegant and cosmopolitan gallery the perfect site for your charitable events, corporate gatherings, special performances and private celebrations.

Among the many amenities Venue provides is our historic Mason & Hamlin piano

Its story begins in 1912, when it was purchased by the Ursuline Order of the Sacred Heart, as one of two pianos acquired for their convent (now the site of Collingwood Arts Center). Later, in the Great Depression, the Ursuline sisters sold the piano and it entered the possession of the Licavoli Gang, travelling from speakeasy to speakeasy during Toledo’s turbulent bootlegging days during Prohibition. Eventually, it found its way to Toledo’s hottest night club spot of the 1960s, the Aku Aku Polynesian Room. Toward the latter days of the Aku Aku, the house band boasted celebrated jazz pianist Claude Black, who purchased the piano after the closing of the club. Black toured nationally with his piano, before settling back down in Toledo to establish—with longtime friend and collaborator, bassist Cliff Murphy—their own downtown club, Murphy’s Place, in 1991.

Jim Gottron tunes the piano, 2009
Jim Gottron tunes and plays the piano, before Claude Black and Cliff Murphy’s performance for the Polish ambassador at 20 North Gallery on August 12, 2009

12 years later, Murphy’s Place decided to purchase a larger piano, and the 1912 Mason & Hamlin came to 20 North Gallery. Claude Black harbored a fondness for his old piano, and would frequently come to the gallery to warm up “on the old ivories” before going to his gig at the Murphy’s, just down the street.

From the speakeasies, to the Aku Aku, to Murphy’s Place and 20 North Gallery, an extraordinary list of jazz luminaries and legends have made this piano swing on their gigs in Toledo—including Art Tatum; Duke Ellington; Count Basie; Al Jarreau; Harry Connick, Jr.; and, of course, Claude Black, among many, many others.

And, as if that’s not enough, our 1912 Mason & Hamlin has provided accompaniment for likes of Charlie “Bird” Parker, Aretha Franklin and Toledo’s own Jon Hendricks.  A jazz provenance like that can’t be beat!

We look forward to scheduling your musical event at Venue—and having your performance become a part of our history.

20 North Gallery & Venue maintains a list of pianists we recommend, all of whom have a wide repertoire of music and styles.

To schedule your event at Venue, contact 20 North Gallery at 419-241-2400 or email


Venue Lounge Hours:
Open by 


20 North Gallery wishes to thank The [Toledo] Blade and Tiki Central/ for articles cited on this page.