Pipe Organs

M. P. Möller (M. P. Möller, Inc.) was a prolific American organ builder (over 11,000 instruments) located in Hagerstown, Maryland from 1875 to 1992. The company was founded in 1875 by Danish immigrant, Matthias Peter Möller in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. The City of Hagerstown, Maryland took notice of Möller's early successes and induced him to move his business to that city to help make Hagerstown a viable business center in Western Maryland.

Early Möller instruments utilized mechanical (tracker) action in the pipe chests, whereas the console is linked to the pipes by mechanical means. Later, tubular-pneumatic action was used for a brief time until the company adopted its own version of electro-pneumatic action (or pitman action).

Möller organs could be found in thousands of churches of all denominations, school, concert halls, private residences and movie theaters. The largest Möller church organ (as a single new instrument) is the one installed in Calvary Church, Charlotte, North Carolina, Opus (serial number) 11739, completed in 1990. Möller built a large number of theater organs (often known as the "Möller Deluxe" organ) and the company's theater largest instrument still resides in the Atlanta Fox Theatre, affectionately known as the "Mighty Mo." The compsny also built many "Artiste" type instruments, smaller mass-produced organs which incorporated standard specifications with fewer sets of pipes. These were known in the 1970's as their "Series 70" instruments.

Sadly, Möller did not turn to solid-state electronics for console components and other innovations, competitors were using until the 1980's. This, coupled with serious labor problems over the years, may have hastened the end of the company by 1992, not to mention the cost of a new pipe organ. As can be said for many pipe organ builders, there are as many fine Möller installations as there are not so fine. One memorable example of Möller's product are the two instruments at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., recently rebuilt by Goulding and Wood. A three manual organ occupies the transept and a four manual is located in the rear gallery. It was through Goulding and Wood's restoration/rebuilding that both organs may be played together or separately from either console, something not accomplished in Möller's original installation. Another large, mostly-Möller instrument is the one in the Cadet Chapet of the United State Military Academy at West Point, New York.

The end came in 1992, after another series of labor disputes which turned rather ugly. Several investors attempted to revive the company and move it from its ancient factory on Hagerstown's Prospect Street, but to no avail. Whether it was the inexperience of these investors in doing business as pipe organ builders, the lack of orders, pipe work that was a shadow of its former self or the lack of capital investment, Moller's assets were auctioned off in 1993. It was indeed a pity to see beautiful almost-completed and completed consoles, voiced pipes, hardwood and the like sold for only a fraction of their value. Unfortunately, there were Churches who never received their new pipe organs.

Möller organs were known to be basically well-built. With some tender loving care, many of them will live on, just like others manufactured by Möller's competitors, including, Skinner, Æolian Skinner, W.W. Kimball, Estey and many others.

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