By Abigail W. Adams
The 19th century mansion that formerly housed The Musical Wonder House on 16-18 High St. in Wiscasset, Thursday, Nov. 20. The Musical Wonder House
closed suddenly and without explanation last spring. (Abigail Adams photo)
The Musical Wonder House was, at one time, a gem of Wiscasset. Opened by Danilo Konvalinka, Lois Ernst Konvalinka, and Douglas Henderson in 1963, the business achieved
international acclaim for its collection of antique music boxes and instruments that filled the 32 room mansion on High Street.
The collection attracted thousands of visitors each year; was written about in on-line and print publications across the country, and received the Business
Recognition Award from the Wiscasset Board of Selectmen in 2012.
Today, the Musical Wonder House is an empty building with broken windows, dead weeds, peeling paint, and a notice that the property is vacant/abandoned. It closed
suddenly and without explanation in the spring of 2014.
The only notice provided to customers was a printed out paper, dated May 25, 2014, taped to the front window that reads: “After 50 wonderful years at this location,
The Musical Wonder House has closed. Thank you to our many loyal patrons.”
The Musical Wonder House was more than a museum. It was a business that restored, bought, and sold antique music boxes, player pianos, and talking machines. The
Musical Wonder House not only left the general public in the dark about its sudden and mysterious closure. It, also, gave no notice, or explanation to many of its former
customers that had left their property with the Musical Wonder House for restoration and sale – property that is now missing.
Roxann Lannan was one of those customers.
A Vernon, Conn. resident, Lannan frequently vacationed in Wiscasset. One of her favorite places to visit was the Musical Wonder House where she has fond memories of
Danilo Konvalinka, a classically trained pianist, give private concerts on the antique organs in his collection that echoed throughout the 19th century sea captain’s mansion.
In 2006, however, The Musical Wonder House changed hands. Konvalinka established the Danilo Konvalinka Trust to ensure the continued operation of his passion
project. Joseph Villani and Paulo Carvalho assumed control of the business.
In 2009, Lannan handed over two antique music boxes to Villani and Carvalho. She was told that if she paid $5,000 to have the crank polyphones restored, they would
be able to resell them for her for an enormous profit. They charged her $5,500 for the restoration then stopped returning her calls.
After two years, Lannan threatened to contact a lawyer. On Aug. 23, 2011, she received a check from Villani for $1,080 and an explanation that the Musical Wonder
House was able to sell one of the music boxes for $1,200. $120 was deducted in commission. She never heard from them again.
“I’m 76 years old,” Lannan told The Lincoln County News. “I don’t have a lot of money. I was looking forward to paying the taxes on my house with the money
they told me I would receive. I never would have tried to sell them [the music boxes] if I didn’t need to.”
“This whole experience has left me feeling very angry,” Lannan continued. “I feel empty and angry.”
Joseph Villani passed away Sept. 11, 2011, a short time after Lannan received a check from him. Carvalho, however, carried on until the doors of the Musical Wonder
House were closed in 2014.
Lannan is not the only customer jilted by the Musical Wonder House. According to a review left on tripadvisor.com on Oct. 7, 2014, a woman left an antique music box
with Musical Wonder House for restoration. It disappeared when the business did.
The Wiscasset Police Department, also, logged a call from a complainant the week of Sept. 29, 2014, stating that a music box left for restoration at a local business
disappeared when the business closed. It is unclear if the caller was the same woman who left the review on tripadvisor.com, or if it is a separate case.
According to Wiscasset town records, the property that housed the Musical Wonder House is still owned by the Danilo Konvalinka Trust. In 2013, it underwent a bank
foreclosure, however, property taxes to the town are current, and are being paid by Nation Star Mortgage through an escrow account.
Mortgage Contracting Services, a national company that is hired by mortgage lenders to provide property management services, is currently in charge of maintaining
16-18 High Street in Wiscasset.
According to Whitepages.com, Paulo A. Carvalho still has a PO Box listed in his name in Wiscasset. It is, also, the same PO Box listed for the Danilo Konvalinka
Trust. The Lincoln County News was unable to contact Carvalho for comment.