If you go to Hagerstown...
  • RMSawicki
    Posts: 91
    When I heard the CMAA summer events were taking place in Hagerstown, I instantly thought to myself, "Ah! Hagerstown. Home of the late, lamented M.P. Moller Organ Company (1875-1993), at one time the largest pipe organ manufacturer in the world.

    As a 30+ year veteran of the organbuilding/maintenance industry, I almost felt like I was on a "religious pilgrimage" when, in the summer of 1994, I was given a tour, by an authorized ex-employee, of the then-silent and (mostly) abandoned factory. I say "mostly" as there were some other companies (not "Trivo", they were alive and well at their own facility on the other side of town!), renting out, on a small scale, what was left of the voicing department and pipe-making shop. I truly began "tearing up" when I stood in the expanse of that huge erecting room and considered how many glorious instruments were conceived, built, and voiced in that massive hulk of a building: the twin organs of the National Shrine/Basilica in Washington, St. George's Episcopal Church in New York (made famous by the E. Power Biggs records), the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, the two chapel organs at the Air Force Academy (yes, those two were tonally designed by Holtkamp...I know!), the Episcopal Cathedral in Harrisburg, the original St. Nicholas of Tolentine in Atlantic CIty (which I was desperately trying to save at one point!), Reginald Foort's touring organ, Holy Name of Jesus in Manhattan (voiced by the incomparable Richard O. Whitelegg!), etc., etc.

    Yes, of course, among the 11,872 instruments that came out of there were tons of small, modest instruments of no particularly great distinction or renown, as well as thousands of stock model three-rank "Artistes" and six-rank "double Artistes", but man-oh-man what an operation! At their peak, in 1928, the were producing an organ a day (by comparison, Wurlitzer, at that same time was only cranking out an organ per week out of North Tonawanda, N.Y.!)

    Well anyway, I understand the factory is now being converted into residential properties. If anyone attending this summer's events thinks to amble by the old haunt, maybe you might snap a few photos? Consider what great liturgical music, in any number of venues, had its practical beginning in THAT building.


    Gaudete in Domino Semper!