Adler: The Piano and Organ Manufacturer of Louisville, Kentucky

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Adler: The Piano and Organ Manufacturer of Louisville, Kentucky

The company started in 1903 by Cyrus Adler and R.S. Hill in Louisville, Kentucky strictly as an Organ Manufacturer. As was common with many large manufacturers, the partnerships often consisted of an investor and an expert craftsman. Adler was a successful owner of a large lumber company. R.S. Hill was from the Mason & Hamlin factory. Hill would be the Superintendent who designed the instruments and managed their construction and quality.

Louisville, Kentucky was an odd location, considering that most manufacturers chose New York, Chicago, and Boston as more ideal locations. Adler chose Louisville due to its good railroad access, and felt confident that the location would be profitable. Adler moved into an existing building that had previously been occupied by a furniture company.

In 1904, plans for a large plant were drawn up to be built across the street. But a dispute arose with the city council members. Adler wanted a simple switch installed and rail to connect the two plants. Some council members objected to the plans for no apparent reason, and petty arguments ensued. Eventually, the new building project was scrapped, resulting in hundreds of lost construction jobs.

A fire started in the packaging room which destroyed a part of the building. The damage was around $15,000 (approx. $380,000 today). Full credit was given to the firemen, otherwise all would have been lost. Water, to put out the fire with, caused extensive damage to the instruments however.

Adler produced a grand and glorious exhibit at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St Louis. This was the expo that introduced the ice cream cone. Apparently the Exhibit was a success as they had obtained a five year contract with Sears & Roebuck to construct the Beckwith Organ.

Within the next year they had 100 employees earning $50-$150 per month.

The factory was eventually extended to 100,000 square feet and occupied an entire city block. The company had its own power plant of 350 horsepower and 500 electric lights with over ten miles of electric wire.

The company was shipping out 40 organs per day and became the largest Manufacturer in Louisville at the time. Between 1910 -1928 they were also building Adler pianos, known to the public as the Beckwith piano as sold by Sears through their Catalogs.

Adler Manufacturing, as well as the Geo. P. Bent Piano company would eventually be purchased by the Sears & Roebuck Company, which would continue to sell pianos and organs all the way up until 1949.

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