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Melville Clark Piano Company (later the Wurlitzer Company)

Location: Pleasant Street, DeKalb
Erected: 1904

Later owned by the Wurlitzer Company, this plant was responsible for the "manufacture of the celebrated Apollo Player Piano...and the renowned Q.R.S. Perforated Music Rolls1." At one time, Wurlitzer was "the largest manufacturer of exclusively high grade pianos, player pianos and music rolls in the world2."

The Wurlitzer Company was founded in 1856 in Cincinatti, OH. In the early part of the Twentieth Century, the company acquired several other plants in different parts of the world as it expanded from retail to manufacturing activities. Wurlitzer purchased the DeKalb facility in 1919; the company also owned plants in Utah, Wyoming, and Mississippi, as well as factories in England, Australia, and West Germany.

In 1935, the company restructured its operations, and consolidated all piano production to the DeKalb plant, making it the world's sole producer of Wurlitzer pianos.

During World War II, the DeKalb plant ceased manufacturing musical instruments and was switched to producing airplane parts for the United States Navy. After the War, regular production activities resumed3.

Images of Melville Clark Piano Company.

Quotes Taken From:
1Davy, Harriet Wilson, ed. From Oxen to Jets: a History of DeKalb County, 1835-1963. Dixon, IL: Rogers, 1963.
2Ibid.
3Inventory of the Wurlitzer Company, DeKalb, Illinois. Records in the Regional History Center, Northern Illinois University, RC 169.

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