Reuter Organ Company

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Reuter Organ Company is a pipe organ builder located in Lawrence, Kansas.

History[edit]

Establishment[edit]

The Reuter Organ Company was founded in 1917 by A.C. Reuter, Earl Schwartz and Henry Jost as the Reuter-Schwartz Organ Company in Trenton, Illinois.

A.C. Reuter held positions at Wicks, Pilcher and Casavant Frères from about 1904. Reuter's nephew, A.G. Sabol, left Casavant to work for his uncle's firm shortly after the company's founding. The company had six other employees at the time of its founding besides Reuter and Sabol, they were Jake Schaeffer, a voicer from Casavant, E.J. "Pat" Netzer, wood worker, William Zweifel, pipe maker, and Frank Jost, console builder.

The first Reuter was completed in 1917, and was the firm's only organ built that year; the instrument consisted of eight stops over two manuals and pedals, and was sold to Trinity Episcopal Church in Mattoon, Illinois. While the organ sat in the erecting room a tornado struck Trenton, and blew out one of the factory walls. The assembled organ suffered severe damage.The company carried insurance, and neither the church, nor Reuter incurred any financial loss. A new instrument, opus 2, was built and set up in Trinity Episcopal.

Move to Kansas[edit]

In March, 1919, Carl Preyer, head of the piano department of the University of Kansas, was in St. Louis to perform with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. Following his concert, Preyer traveled to Trenton, Illinois to visit the Reuter factory at the invitation of Sam Bihr, the Reuter representative for Kansas. While in Trenton, Preyer learned that Reuter was contemplating a move. Lawrence, Kansas was one of three sites being considered for a future location. During the installation at the Masonic Temple in April 1919, Preyer convinced the company officials to select Lawrence as its new home. The Wilder Brothers shirt factory, vacant at the time, was purchased as the new Reuter headquarters.

While the factory in Lawrence was being prepared, the employees in Trenton started the arduous task of dismantling, crating and loading all of the equipment and furnishings. Eventually it took eight railway boxcars to move the production operation from Trenton to Lawrence.

On September 5, 1919, the company was incorporated in the State of Kansas. The board of directors was listed as E.G Schwartz, A.C. Reuter, H.T. Jost, G.O. Foster, and W.B Downing. Foster and Downing were both with the University of Kansas. The Lawrence Chamber of Commerce had pledged funds to help defray the cost of moving. On January 1, 1920, the new office was open for business, and on March 1 the remodeled factory opened for production. The city of Lawrence could now boast that it was one of the few communities in the nation with a pipe organ factory.

The first instrument built in the Lawrence plant was opus 27, a 23-rank organ for the Central Congregational Church in Topeka, Kansas. On July 3, 1920, the Lawrence community was invited to a public recital on the completed instrument in the assembly room. The performers were Professor C. S. Skilton, Professor C. Preyer, and Mrs. Sylvia Osborn at the console; Professor W.B. Downing and Miss Helmick sang solos; and Mr. W.B. Dalton played the cello.

Shortly after the move to Kansas, Earl Schwartz left the company, and Schwartz's name was dropped, and the company became The Reuter Organ Company.

During the era of silent films, the company made a small number of theatre organs.[1]

New factory[edit]

On June 4, 2001, Chairman of the Board Albert Neutel officially opened Reuter's new $4 million headquarters on the northwest edge of town; a building with double the space of the old Wilder Bros. shirt factory. The company has organs in the United States, Canada, Taiwan, and Korea.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Notes[edit]