Adler: The Louisville, Kentucky Piano and Organ Maker

Website design By BotEap.comThe company was started in 1903 by Cyrus Adler and RS Hill in Louisville, Kentucky, strictly as an organ manufacturer. As was common with many large manufacturers, partnerships often consisted of an investor and a skilled craftsman. Adler was a successful owner of a large logging company. RS Hill was from the Mason & Hamlin factory. Hill would be the Superintendent who would design the instruments and manage their construction and quality.

Website design By BotEap.comLouisville, Kentucky was an odd location, considering most manufacturers chose New York, Chicago, and Boston as more ideal locations. Adler chose Louisville because of its good rail access and was confident the location would be profitable. Adler moved into an existing building that had previously been occupied by a furniture company.

Website design By BotEap.comIn 1904, plans were drawn up for a large plant to be built across the street. But a dispute arose with members of the city council. Adler wanted a simple switch and rail installed to connect the two floors. Some council members opposed the plans for no apparent reason, and petty discussions ensued. Eventually, the new construction project was scrapped, resulting in the loss of hundreds of construction jobs.

Website design By BotEap.comA fire started in the packing room which destroyed a part of the building. Damage was about $15,000 (approximately $380,000 today). All credit was given to the firefighters, otherwise all would have been lost. However, the water to put out the fire caused extensive damage to the instruments.

Website design By BotEap.comAdler produced a grand and glorious display at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St Louis. This was the exhibit that introduced the ice cream cone. Apparently the exhibit was a success as they had secured a five-year contract with Sears & Roebuck to build the Beckwith organ.

Website design By BotEap.comThe following year they had 100 employees earning between $50 and $150 per month.

Website design By BotEap.comThe factory was eventually expanded to 100,000 square feet and took up an entire city block. The company had its own 350-horsepower power plant and 500 electric lights with more than ten miles of electrical wiring.

Website design By BotEap.comThe company shipped 40 organs a day and became the largest manufacturer in Louisville at the time. Between 1910 and 1928 they also built Adler pianos, known to the public as the Beckwith piano sold by Sears through their catalogs.

Website design By BotEap.comAdler Manufacturing, as well as Geo. The P. Bent Piano company would eventually be purchased by the Sears & Roebuck Company, which would continue to sell pianos and organs until 1949.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *