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M.P. Moller Organ Co. music and memories live on

July 14, 2008|By ANGELICA ROBERTS
(Page 2 of 2)

Its economic situation resulted in 30 employees being laid off in February 1992.

On April 15 of that year, the company shut its doors for what was to be a two-week period, with officials saying they needed the time for a financial restructuring and possible sale of the business. Paul Coughlin, chairman of the board, was quoted as saying the company needed $600,000 to stay afloat.

The plant never would reopen.

Early in the shutdown, a union official said workers were owed two weeks of back pay, and that more than half of the union workers and members of the clerical staff were continuing to work without pay.

The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in August 1992.

Moller continued to fight to remain viable, seeking loans from the state. An attempt by employees to buy out the business fell through in September. The last effort to reopen the plant came from a group of investors, led by John L. Grove, then-chairman of JLG Industries Inc. in McConnellsburg, Pa. That attempt collapsed at the end of September 1992.

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Facing the music

In October, the members of Local 21108 of the International Union of Electrical Workers, which represented Moller union employees, held a reception to thank the community for its help in its unsuccessful attempt to buy the company.

Moller would make no more organs.

The company's closing left 115 people out of work.

Delphin Frushour was one of them.

"I was devastated when the place closed," Frushour said recently. "I shed a few tears because it's all I'd known since I was 19 years old. It was heartbreaking."

An auction was held at the Moller plant on Jan. 13, 1993, and the company's organ equipment, office equipment, tools and hardware went on the block.

While the company is gone, it left behind a musical legacy.

In its lifetime, M.P. Moller Organ Co. produced about 12,000 organs.

"I don't think the whole organ industry has turned out as many organs annually as Moller did," Morrison said.

Today, the building where the M.P. Moller Organ Co. built its organs still stands.

Vincent Groh bought the property at a liquidation auction, and later sold it to the Ridgecrest Investments of Frederick, Md., the current owner of the property.

A representative from the firm did not want to comment on whether there were any plans for the site.

Morrison, Frushour and Alvin Rogers worked at the M.P. Moller plant, and today they rent 18,000 square feet of the old Moller building for their Eastern Organ Pipe Co., which is a pipe-making and repair business.

The Blue Mountain Wood Works Co. also has space at the location.

Despite its eventual end, Morrison said he thinks the story of the M.P. Moller Organ Co. is remarkable.

"It's an amazing story of how he started on his own, and in 50 years time, the company became the largest organ company in the country," Morrison said.




Moller did more

In addition to the M.P. Moller Organ Co., Mathias Moller was involved in other businesses.

With Robert Crawford, Moller formed the Crawford Automobile Co. in 1905. The company produced cars at a plant on Surrey Avenue in Hagerstown, which Moller later converted to apartments.

Moller eventually purchased the car company and changed its name to the M.P. Moller Motor Car Co., which turned out high-quality taxicabs and custom-built truck bodies.

In 1922, Moller began manufacturing the Dagmar car, which he named for his daughter, Dagmar, who in turn was named for the legendary queen of Bohemia.

Fewer than a thousand Dagmars were manufactured before production ceased in 1927, according to published reports.

Moller, in 1911, built the Dagmar Hotel, a luxury hotel and, at the time, the tallest building in Hagerstown. The hotel still stands at the corner of Summit Avenue and Antietam Street in downtown Hagerstown.

Moller was one of the founders of the Home Builders Building and Loan Association in Hagerstown and was its president for years.

Moller spearheaded the movement to erect a YMCA in Hagerstown and was a substantial contributor to its building fund.

Moller also was president of the Hagerstown Trust Co. and owner of Moller Music shop.

Moller died April 13, 1937, at the age of 82.




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