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Remains Of Organ Builder Auctioned

April 11, 1995

HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) _ The remains of M.P. Moller, once the world’s largest pipe organ maker, went on the auction block Tuesday following a Chicago businessman’s failed attempt to revive the King of Instruments.

Groups of buyers came to pick over saw horses, workbenches, hardware and other items from the company that crafted organs for West Point, Lincoln Center and hundreds of churches.

``Right over this way, folks,″ auctioneer James Cochran announced shortly after 9 a.m. ``It’s time to start the sale. We’re selling everything as is _ just as you see it.″

After 112 years, Moller went out of business in 1992, saddled by debt and years of poor management. In January 1993, thousands flocked to a four-day auction to buy woodworking equipment, organ parts, and office equipment.

Still, there was hope that Chicago businessman Paul Stuck could revive Moller as the King of Instruments. Just before the auction, Stuck paid $50,000 to buy the Moller name, trade secrets and records in bankruptcy court.

His effort to rekindle the factory failed. And at Tuesday’s auction, there was a sense of finality inside the old brick factory.

In addition to liquidating the equipment, Cole Taylor Bank of Wheeling, Ill. has taken over the assets of King of Instruments and is selling the archives and Moller trade name to a domestic company, said Paul Ross Jr., special assets officer for the bank.

``The unfortunate thing about this whole thing is that ... a lot of churches lost money,″ said Randall Dyer, who owns Randall Dyer & Associates, a small pipe organ builder in Jefferson City, Tenn.

Both before and after Stuck took the company over, several churches that ordered organs from King of Instruments lost money or were left with unfinished instruments.

The churches are either suing, or finding other ways to recoup their investments or get their organs finished.

Making organs is ``a touchy business. It requires careful management or you’re in the red,″ Alan D. McNeely, president of The McNeely Church Organ Co. in Waterford, Conn., said just before buying a $600 barrel of wood glue for $85. ``It’s an art. It’s a craft. It’s not a commercialized operation.″

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