Greencastle-made Moller part of exhibit

November 11, 2005|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - A lot of Hagerstown folks might think the former Moller Organ Co. was started in their city.

They'd better think again.

Mathias Peter Moller was born in Denmark in 1854 and came to America 17 years later. He settled first in Erie, Pa., and worked in an organ factory there before moving to Greencastle in 1877. He started to build organs in Greencastle in a shop in his home at 42 E. Franklin St.

"The house is still there today," said Bonnie Shockey, president of the Allison-Antrim Museum at 365 S. Ridge Ave.

One of Moller's Greencastle organs will be a highlight at an open house at the museum Sunday focusing on items made in the Greencastle area. It runs from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

According to the museum's Web site, Moller couldn't find financial backers in Greencastle so he moved his shop to Hagerstown in 1881. The Moller Organ Co. made organs there for 111 years. It closed in 1992.


One of Moller's early Greencastle organs was commissioned by the Reformed Church, later renamed Grace United Church of Christ, at 128 E. Baltimore St. The congregation raised the $425 to buy the instrument.

Neither Shockey nor the owner of the organ who loaned it to the museum for its open house knew the year the organ, a pump model, was made. A gold-leaf label above the keyboard offers no hint. It reads simply, "Organ Company Greencastle, Pa."

The owner of the organ, who lives in Greencastle, asked to remain anonymous.

What is known is that the organ was made sometime between 1877, when Moller opened his shop in Greencastle, and 1881, when he moved it to Hagerstown.

It isn't in good working condition, Shockey said, "but my husband can get sound out of it by pumping the right pedal."

Mathias Moller's interests extended beyond organ making, according to the museum's Web site. In 1905, he joined with Robert Crawford in Hagerstown to form the Crawford Automobile Co., which produced about 1,500 touring cars. In 1922, Moller introduced the Dagmar, a model which came in a variety of body styles.

The car was named after Moller's daughter, Dagmar. A downtown Hagerstown hotel is also named after her, the Web site said.

Many of the items and artifacts to be seen at the open house are part of the museum's permanent collection.

Among them are a grain cradle made by Henry S. Walck; a cast iron room stove made by J.B. Crowell; a chest of drawers with mirror made by Augustus Shirey, a cabinet maker and undertaker in the mid-1800s; Frank Feather carvings; a flat-belt driven buck saw made by the Flinchbaugh Manufacturing Co. around 1914; a tall mantel clock made by David Warren; and a cherry cabinet mantel clock made by the late Ira Lesher Sr.

There is no charge for admission, but donations are accepted.

For more information, visit the museum's Web site at or call 717-597-9010.

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