S. Nathaniel Adams

Documenting history as well as my experiences with repairing and restoring vintage guitars.

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The Richter Manufacturing Company Factory in 1931 Image Credit:  Music Trade Review 1922 Richter Advertisement Image Credit:  Music Trade Re...

The Richter Manufacturing Company Factory in 1931
Image Credit: Music Trade Review

1922 Richter Advertisement
Image Credit: Music Trade Review

Check out Charles' existing research with more photos and illustrations of the Richter instruments


Carl Hugo Richter was born on May 17th, 1893 in Laramie, Wyoming to German parents Charles (b.1853) and Anna Richter (b. 1872). Harold Henry Joseph Richter was born on December 7th, 1894 in Chicago Illinois.

In 1910, Charles was the proprietor of a saloon and his sons remained in school [17].

By 1917, World War I was in full swing and both young Richter men had to register for the draft. Carl, 24, was a foreman at the Harmony Company and Harold was working in manufacturing at Harmony [8][10].

The 1920 census reveals that their father, Charles, was a president of a musical instrument company. Carl was listed as an "assistant superintendent" and Harold as a "book keeper" for a musical instrument company [9]. 

Obituary for Charles Richter - August 23rd, 1920
Image Credit: Newspapers.com

After the death of the family patriarch, Anna took up her husband's role as president of the new company and held it until 1922 [5]. In 1923, Carl became president of the company with his brother continuing his role as secretary [6].

In 1930, Carl and his wife Florence were living with her mother and he was still the president of a musical instrument manufacturing company [15]. Harold was living alone with their mother and was now a salesman for a security company [16].

World War II led to another round of the draft and both men were self employed with their company [11][12]. Carl was still president and Harold was secretary [4].

The factory folded during the war and by 1942 their factory was now housing the Masterform Tool Company [18].

Carl died in 1956 and Harold in 1970 [13][14]

The Factory

Work began on a single story 125'x125' factory building in 1920 at the northwest corner of Irving Park Boulevard and North Maplewood Avenue. The factory would cost $27,000 [1]. It was owned by architect Henry Sleks from 19 Dearborn Street. The masonry was done by A. F. Deffosse, carpentry by Aaron Miller, Heating and plumbing by Dywer and Co [3]. 

I attempted to find the Sanborn Fire Insurance map of the factory but unfortunately Sanborn and Co passed through the area in 1913 when the property was an empty lot [7].

Present Day

The factory was easy to find as the street names remain the same as they did nearly a hundred years ago. The building remained standing until 2014 until it was demolished to make way for condominiums.

The Richter Factory in 2011

The Richter Factory was demolished in 2014

Condos have replaced the factory


[1] https://www.google.com/books/edition/Domestic_Engineering_and_the_Journal_of/66PmAAAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=2532+Irving+Park+boulevard,+Chicago&pg=PA208&printsec=frontcover\
[2] https://www.google.com/books/edition/Certified_List_of_Domestic_and_Foreign_C/CjFHAQAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=richter+mfg+company+chicago&pg=PA950&printsec=frontcover
[3] https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_American_Contractor/5jRYAAAAYAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&bsq=%222532%20Irving%20Park%20Blvd%22%20
[4] https://books.google.com/books?id=EHUbAQAAIAAJ&newbks=0&printsec=frontcover&dq=carl+h.+richter+harold+h+richter&q=carl+h.+richter+harold+h+richter&hl=en&source=newbks_fb
[5] https://www.google.com/books/edition/Certified_List_of_Domestic_and_Foreign_C/CjFHAQAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=richter+mfg+company+chicago&pg=PA950&printsec=frontcover
[6] https://www.google.com/books/edition/Certified_List_of_Domestic_and_Foreign_C/iXZZ_sYB_osC?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=%22richter+mfg+co%22+irving+park+blvd+chicago&pg=PA1037&printsec=frontcover
[7] https://www.loc.gov/resource/g4104cm.g01790191319/?sp=79&r=0.393,1.07,0.683,0.394,0
[8]  Carl's WWI card - https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/6482/images/005248466_01835?treeid=&personid=&hintid=&queryId=c50245f909a38656d23e74864371eab8&usePUB=true&_phsrc=OTJ286&_phstart=successSource&usePUBJs=true&pId=23286973
[9] 1920 Census - https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/6061/images/4300485_00912?usePUB=true&_phsrc=OTJ289&_phstart=successSource&usePUBJs=true&pId=89436551
[10] Harolds WWI card - https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/6482/images/005248466_01836?treeid=&personid=&hintid=&queryId=1f2192a7f1a920e89f245e8729e2c75f&usePUB=true&_phsrc=OTJ291&_phstart=successSource&usePUBJs=true&pId=23286974
[11] https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/1002/images/30955_165937-05816?usePUB=true&_phsrc=OTJ291&_phstart=successSource&usePUBJs=true&pId=10100188
[12] https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/1002/images/30955_165937-05691?usePUB=true&_phsrc=OTJ287&_phstart=successSource&usePUBJs=true&pId=10100127
[13] https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/197849849:60525?tid=&pid=&queryId=17f86aa453dc72dc787ae0810f023f3e&_phsrc=OTJ289&_phstart=successSource
[14] https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&dbid=3693&h=51977416&tid=&pid=&queryId=1f2192a7f1a920e89f245e8729e2c75f&usePUB=true&_phsrc=OTJ291&_phstart=successSource
[15] https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/6224/images/4584289_00906?usePUB=true&_phsrc=OTJ289&_phstart=successSource&usePUBJs=true&pId=84767037
[16] https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/6224/images/4584289_00248?usePUB=true&_phsrc=OTJ291&_phstart=successSource&usePUBJs=true&pId=84743106
[17] https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/7884/images/31111_4328154-00482?pId=112740820
[18] https://www.newspapers.com/image/370232493/?terms=2532%20irving%20park&match=1

1922 Rivola Advertisement Image Source Angelo Mannello & Sons Angelo Mannello was born October 11th, 1859 in Italy where he undoubtedly ...

1922 Rivola Advertisement
Image Source

Angelo Mannello & Sons

Angelo Mannello was born October 11th, 1859 in Italy where he undoubtedly studied joinery or musical instrument construction. He arrived in the United States on April 8th, 1885 and began the manufacture of instruments under his name in 1888. He lived at 680 Eagle Avenue in Chicago [1]. He won numerous awards at fairs and expositions across the United States including the 1904 St Louis Worlds Fair. He was noted for spending four months making a mandolin with intricate pearl inlay detailing the figure of a woman surrounded by flying butterflies. His mandolin won first prize at the 1900 Paris Fair [2].

He married Filomena (b. 1868) in 1888 and had seven children: Filomina, Anna, Martin, Ida, Fiori, Antoinette, and Jennie [3]. In 1910, George, aged 15, began working at the instrument factory as an office boy [4]. Angelo's occupation was listed as being a "mandolin manufacturer". By 1920, Martin, aged 20, was also working in the factory as an apprentice [5]. Their youngest son, Fiora, did not appear to join the trade.

In 1894, Angelo's factory was located at 260 Bowery and employed 3 men working 66 hours a week. By 1898, he employed 38 employees [8][9]. The staffing went up to 45 in 1899 [10]. 

Angelo Mannello filed for bankruptcy in 1905 which gives an incredible insight into his life. His factory at 553 East 140th Street in New York manufactured "mandolins, guitars, etc". He had been in the business of instrument manufacture for 17 years prior to the bankruptcy. In February of 1905, his factory at 476 Eagle Avenue was destroyed by fire. He also owned a "liquor saloon" for 7 years prior at 550 Courtland Avenue. He had $90,773 in liabilities and $9,078 in assets. He was listed as being the treasurer of the Bell Piano Company and owed $33,941 to the company. He also owed money to tuning machine manufacturer Louis Handel, Grubb-Rosegarten Brothers, and the Strouch brothers [7].


In 1921, Angelo passed his business onto his sons George and Martin who turned their eyes onto expansion of the business and incorporated the Rivola Manufacturing Corporation. They had developed a reputation for their Rivola brand instruments under their father and decided to embrace the brand for their company. They expanded their instrument lineup to include banjos, banjo mandolins, banjo guitars, tenor banjos, bowlback and flat back mandolins, ukuleles, and guitars. All carried the "Rivola" brand. Their factory, office, and show rooms were located at 565 Courtlandt Street in New York City [6]. 



[1] https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/1629/images/31194_121022-00418?treeid=&personid=&hintid=&queryId=66e52141710f5c44cb24d04db87f307a&usePUB=true&_phsrc=OTJ279&_phstart=successSource&usePUBJs=true&pId=6460101
[2] https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Purchaser_s_Guide_to_the_Music_Indus/N5NDAQAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&bsq=rivola
[3] https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/7364/images/004518333_00588?treeid=&personid=&hintid=&queryId=23b751f47468d59470afd62bc4eca8c0&usePUB=true&_phsrc=OTJ280&_phstart=successSource&usePUBJs=true&pId=3370098
[4] https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/7884/images/4449352_00287?usePUB=true&_phsrc=OTJ280&_phstart=successSource&usePUBJs=true&pId=18405927
[5] https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/6061/images/4313480-00185?usePUB=true&_phsrc=OTJ280&_phstart=successSource&usePUBJs=true&pId=9065926
[6] https://www.google.com/books/edition/Music_Trades/5ZRQAAAAYAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&bsq=rivola%20
[7] https://www.google.com/books/edition/Piano_Organ_Musical_Instrument_Workers_O/b7QqAAAAYAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=mannello+manufacturing&pg=RA19-PA8&printsec=frontcover
[8] https://www.google.com/books/edition/Annual_Report_of_the_Factory_Inspectors/G2hKAAAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=mannello+manufacturing&pg=PA284&printsec=frontcover
[9] https://www.google.com/books/edition/Annual_Report_of_the_Factory_Inspectors/FP5ZAAAAYAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=mannello+angelo&pg=PA351&printsec=frontcover
[10] https://www.google.com/books/edition/Annual_Report_of_the_Factory_Inspectors/6GhKAAAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=mannello+angelo&pg=PA297&printsec=frontcover

About The Special Services was founded in 1940 as a branch of the military dedicated to entertaining and boosting morale amongst soldiers [1...


The Special Services was founded in 1940 as a branch of the military dedicated to entertaining and boosting morale amongst soldiers [1].

According to FM 28-105, a field manual for the branch, they shipped out 2 guitars, 2 mandolins, 2 violins, 144 ukuleles, tonettes, song flutes, and ocarinas per kit. Kit D contained the instruments and supplies needed to maintain them in Europe where obtaining replacement parts might be impossible [2].

. Kit “ D ” ( Musical ) is a collection of instruments con taining one piano, guitars, mandolins, ukeleles, harmonicas, tonettes, ocarinas, and various publications and maintenance

( 3) Guitar. The Spanish model guitar included in the musical kit will serve satisfactorily with reasonable care which should include keeping the instrument clean and dry, and maintaining the mechanism by frequently cleaning and oiling lightly the patent head . The metal strings should be treated lightly with a very thin oil. Spare parts include bridge and patent head , which constitute a complete unit, and an extra finger board. (4) Mandolin. The care of the mandolin is the same as that necessary for the maintenance of the guitar . The nec essary parts with which to make repairs are included in the kit . ( 5) Ukulele. The ukulele has Aesh strings which are sus ceptible to heat and moisture. They should be loosened 19 slightly when the instrument is not in use . Its care is the same as that prescribed for the guitar and mandolin .


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_Services_(entertainment)
[2] https://books.googleusercontent.com/books/content?req=AKW5QacEo_rWBpPXrI8hHb99vCyuuzzPPMSCod4A8ZLQT9oEt0N8_ZlSWpS3xTL57G61YS3_-6Ztjeh_VQ6CKNvPa5Jdmcr83qPFNK-P4Nx4Elq4iYjOpNT5sAL6QzZvS74agZhnz4EFxgD-XuXphQ3zVcVkPr3kpgrCuUA6DN8OS5_kLYZkZvMMWovxKYMrOh6_Gchnh4zSvA3rnHkp7VUeCp89obhyVn-0ftXFnefLQpGXu3xeTHBc4nPJ5LQ8cIN5-lGBEyBj_GXM5GTgkAOMGaLwPDYnkg

  Image Credit:  Newspapers.com Staffelbach & Duffy were the original owners of the Lark brand name that appeared on mandolins, banjos, ...


Image Credit: Newspapers.com

Staffelbach & Duffy were the original owners of the Lark brand name that appeared on mandolins, banjos, and guitars in the 1930s-40s. 

In 1948, Charles L. Staffelbach registered the company name again as sole owner



About Gustav A. Ernst was born on April 18th, 1844 in Kauern, Germany. He married Emilie and had two children: Hugo (b. 1872) and Martha (b....


Gustav A. Ernst was born on April 18th, 1844 in Kauern, Germany. He married Emilie and had two children: Hugo (b. 1872) and Martha (b. 1876). He worked as a tischler or carpenter. Gustav moved his family to the United States in May of 1882 aboard the Hamburg where they finally settled in Camden, New Jersey. He became a US citizen in 1887 [2][3].

In 1887, Gustav went into the business of manufacturing musical instruments with his son Hugo and an initial capital of $3,000. By 1895 they were employing 15 men and one women and a worker could expect to work 59 hours for around $18 per week. The raw materials that were brought into the factory included "sawed lumber, veneers, imported fretwire, machine heads, strings, and varnishes" [1]. Of the materials listed, they paid a 14% duty on the imported lumber and a 45% duty on the "strings, fretwire, machine heads, etc." [1]

Luckily for us, the Sanborn Map Company passed through Ernst's factory and gave us a brief look into what the building looked like. The building was originally a two story brick home but Gustav built on a wood frame extension that would've tripled the amount of space. 

The Factory on the South-West corner of Mechanic and Norris Streets
Sanborn Map Company, 1906 Vol. 2
Image Credit: Library of Congress

The first floor had three rooms of which the first was for 'bench work' which would've been the assembly and fitting of the parts. The second room was denoted 'sawing' and would've housed their bandsaw and other machinery powered by a 10 horse power motor sitting right outside. The southernmost addition was only a single story and was marked as 'storage' which would hold raw materials and instruments waiting on glue to dry. Hopping up to the second floor one would find a room dedicated to 'finishing' where varnishes would be hand rubbed onto the instruments and left to cure. The room behind that was designated storage and likely would've housed the drying instruments. 

Image Credit: Google Maps

The factory appears to still be standing at 1401 Norris Street but there have been further additions and renovations so its unclear whether the original structure still remains under there. Public property data that can be found on realtor websites for this address say that it was built in 1908. Whether that means a new structure was put here or the building was changed from an industrial to a residential zoning is unclear to me.

Production Totals

  • 1887 
    • Guitars - 150
    • Zithers - 40
  • 1888
    • Guitars - 250
    • Zithers - 50
  • 1889
    • Guitars - 500
    • Zithers - 20
  • 1890
    • Guitars - 750
    • Zithers - 20
  • 1891
    • Guitars - 900
    • Zithers - 25
  • 1892
    • Guitars - 1200
    • Zithers - 50
  • 1893
    • Guitars - 2000
    • Zithers - 100
  • 1894-?
    • ?
At the turn of the century, Gustav and Hugo were continuing to produce musical instruments but in 1906, Gustav passed away months before his 62nd birthday [4]. Hugo sold the old factory in 1908 and moved a stone's throw away to 1327 Haddon Avenue (his building is no longer there) [6]. He continued to produce mandolins and guitars under such names as "The Ernst" until he passed away in the late 1920s. 

Hugo also received a patent for a double back guitar in 1916

Hugo's 1912 patent for a double back guitar
US 1,180,991

Extant Instruments

Identifying Ernst instruments relies primarily on any existing labels or stamps due to their relative rarity on the market. I will add photos of Ernst instruments here in order to better help others identify theirs
Image Credit: Guernsey's Auctions - July 2021


[1] https://www.google.com/books/edition/United_States_Congressional_Serial_Set/CiFHAQAAIAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=gustave+a+ernst+guitar&pg=PA109&printsec=frontcover
[2] https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/1174/images/USM1372_468-0075?treeid=&personid=&hintid=&queryId=feb529ce7f07015bf70f3763a1bcf498&usePUB=true&_phsrc=OTJ254&_phstart=successSource&usePUBJs=true&pId=1255221
[3] https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/61557/images/48181_548678-00523?treeid=&personid=&hintid=&queryId=df63a140845a333f1fa755c036acd543&usePUB=true&_phsrc=OTJ253&_phstart=successSource&usePUBJs=true&pId=1632416
[4] https://www.newspapers.com/image/480124732/?article=47853d33-2d67-40fa-86b1-bbbc6f00b48b&focus=0.25862873,0.3150493,0.39697376,0.37084702&xid=3355
[5] https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/6061/images/4313315-01028?usePUB=true&_phsrc=OTJ261&_phstart=successSource&usePUBJs=true&pId=75303571
[6] http://www.dvrbs.com/people/CamdenPeople-GustavErnst.htm




Henry Kuhrmeyer's Patent (S-V Era) US1932975 [3] Filed on April 7th, 1930 Renewed March 2nd, 1933 Patent Granted October 31st, 1933 This...

Henry Kuhrmeyer's Patent (S-V Era)

US1932975 [3]
Filed on April 7th, 1930
Renewed March 2nd, 1933
Patent Granted October 31st, 1933

This 1930 patent from Henry 'Kay' Kuhrmeyer during his time at Stromberg-Voisinet shows the early version of the adjustable neck joint as seen on a banjo. The core features are visible including the countersunk screw that passes through a hole in a mounting rod that connects to the body. 

Surprisingly there isn't any mention of a Joseph Zorzi in the patent documents. 

Stromberg-Voisinet Co. banjo label [2]
Image Credit: BanjoHangout - beezaboy

The Patent (Kay Era)

1930s Kay Deluxe with the Zorzi neck joint

Stromberg-Voisinet eventually became Kay and was headed by Kuhrmeyer and the neck joint began appearing on more instruments including the famed Kay Kraft line of 'venetian style' instruments.

The new joint featured a radiused, dyed wood block with a raised center rail that was secured to the body of the instrument with three small finishing nails. The end of the neck is radiused to match the body block and has a channel which slides along the rail on the block. A bolt protruding from the neck fits through a hole drilled in the neck block and is secured with a wing nut. That bolt is held in place by a wood screw driven through the heel of the instrument.

Instruction Sticker
Image Credit: Facebook - Thom R
The mounting hardware used in the Zorzi neck joint seen above

Who is Joseph Zorzi?

I'm unable to find any contemporary sources mentioning Joseph Zorzi and he seems to elude any digitized census records so his existence is something I'm uncertain about. 

Timeline of Zorzi's Life according to Michael Wright's book, The Histories of Cool Guitars - Guitar Stories Volume 2

  • 1878
    • Born in Messina
  • 1894
    • Began apprenticeship with Milanese luthier Leandro Bisiach
  • 1898
    • Recruited by Lyon & Healy and moved to Chicago
  • 1899
    • Promoted to production chief of Washburn instruments with L&H
  • 1924
    • First meeting of the American Guild of Luthiers of which Zorzi was one of the founders
  • 1926 
    • Zorzi advertised a Guild meeting at L&H and was fired
    • Zorzi was then hired at Stromberg-Voisinet
  • 1929
    • There exists, according to Wright, a 14 fret Kay Kraft guitar with Zorzi's signature and dated 12/29 
  • 1934
    • Joseph Zorzi leaves Kay to start his own private shop


[1] https://patents.google.com/patent/US542788A
[2] https://www.banjohangout.org/archive/368246
[3] https://patents.google.com/patent/US1932975A

I've assembled photographs of old guitar tuning machines from a plethora of catalog scans and attached the dates that they appear in the...

I've assembled photographs of old guitar tuning machines from a plethora of catalog scans and attached the dates that they appear in the catalogs. Hopefully this will be a helpful resource in identifying and dating tuning machines.

c.1895 from a Gemünder catalog


c.1889 from a C Bruno Catalog
Image Credit: VintAxe

c.1910 from a C Bruno Catalog
Image Credit: VintAxe

c.1917 from a Lyon & Healy Catalog
Image Credit: VintAxe

c.1921 from a Wurlitzer Catalog
Image Credit: VintAxe

c.1923 from a Wurlitzer Catalog
Image Credit: VintAxe

c.1926 from a J.W. Jenkins Catalog
Image Credit: VintAxe

c.1927 from a B&J Catalog
Image Credit: VintAxe

c.1930 from a Continental Catalog
Image Credit: VintAxe

  Photograph from August's obituary [7] About August Gemünder (b. 1814, d.1895) was born in Würtemberg, Germany to violin maker Johann G...


Photograph from August's obituary [7]


August Gemünder (b. 1814, d.1895) was born in Würtemberg, Germany to violin maker Johann George Heinrich Gemünder and his wife [2]. August was born into the trade with his father having an established reputation for manufacturing and repairing (including the repair of four Stradivari violins in 1828). When August was around 11 years old, his father began teaching him the tools of the trade which would carry him for the rest of his life. This education was furthered by August and his two brothers (Johann George Jr and Albert) being apprenticed under Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume in Paris where they developed techniques in construction, finishing, and violin shop operation [8]. August was noted to have built a replica of Pablo de Sarasate's Amati violin and Sarasate publicly declared the instrument to be as good as the original [7]. 

In 1846 August and Albert immigrated to the United States and settled in Springfield, Massachusetts where they would remain August decided to move to New York to take advantage of a wider market for his instruments. He also began trading in old violins which supplemented his catalog of shop-made instruments. This included the "Art" line of violins which were imported 'in the white' from Germany then modified and finished in the Gemünder workshop with their touches and label [8]. 

In his personal life, he married a younger German immigrant named Henerietta and had four sons, August Martin Jr (b.1864), Rudolph (b.1865), Charles (b.1870), Oscar (b.1872), and one daughter Lena (b. 1867) [2]. August Jr, Rudolph, and Oscar would all work in the shop constructing and finishing musical instruments. In January of 1891, August Jr and Rudolph would join their father as partners to the business while Oscar maintained their publications such as The Violin World periodical [5].

August Sr died in 1895 but the firm continued operation due to August Jr's ambition. In 1917, the firm was ordered to liquidate due to the requests of Rudolph's widow [10]. August Jr died in 1928 and Oscar continued to run the business until his death in 1946 when it ceased entirely [8].

Gemünder Instrument Catalog

Only one extant catalog has been documented and it remains in the possession of the Library of Congress. I requested an excerpt from this 1895 catalog and have provided photos of the guitars and mandolins here. There is another section on violins which can be found here:

Explanation of Gemünder's process of aging their violins

The storefront was described as being "heavily stocked with violins and guitars (a large proportion of which are imported from Germany, France, and England) with a full assortment of bows and strings from Italy, and with a number of very fine instruments of the firm's own manufacture..." [6]. 

They produced instruments with solid Brazilian Rosewood, bird's eye maple, and mahogany


[1] https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2W6K-MRF
[2] https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GYB4-949X?i=22&cc=1417683&personaUrl=%2Fark%3A%2F61903%2F1%3A1%3AMZ6N-4D7
[3] https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GR6R-N4Z?i=38&cc=1488411&personaUrl=%2Fark%3A%2F61903%2F1%3A1%3AMJB4-Z1W
[4] https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9RZ7-7W6?i=28&cc=1810731&personaUrl=%2Fark%3A%2F61903%2F1%3A1%3AX7DD-4FL
[5] https://books.google.com/books?id=sFVGAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA27&dq=August+Gem%C3%BCnder&hl=en&newbks=1&newbks_redir=0&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwip-uWL4ODxAhWHPM0KHfJ6DbMQ6AF6BAgGEAI#v=onepage&q=August%20Gem%C3%BCnder&f=false
[6] https://books.google.com/books?id=zmgoAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA221&dq=August+Gem%C3%BCnder&hl=en&newbks=1&newbks_redir=0&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjmypi-4eDxAhUTCM0KHf8LA-k4ChDoAXoECAMQAg
[7] https://books.google.com/books?id=JRtMAQAAMAAJ&pg=RA23-PA27&dq=August+Gem%C3%BCnder&hl=en&newbks=1&newbks_redir=0&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjmypi-4eDxAhUTCM0KHf8LA-k4ChDoAXoECAYQAg#v=onepage&q=August%20Gem%C3%BCnder&f=false
[8] https://www.immigrantentrepreneurship.org/entries/george-gemunder/#_edn55
[9] https://books.google.com/books?id=RAhJAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA553&dq=August+Gem%C3%BCnder&hl=en&newbks=1&newbks_redir=0&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjG6qeQ7uDxAhWJGs0KHYEcAbI4FBDoAXoECAIQAg#v=onepage&q=August%20Gem%C3%BCnder&f=false
[10] https://books.google.com/books?id=IpgyAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA275&dq=August+Gem%C3%BCnder&hl=en&newbks=1&newbks_redir=0&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjG6qeQ7uDxAhWJGs0KHYEcAbI4FBDoAXoECAMQAg#v=onepage&q=August%20Gem%C3%BCnder&f=false

Advertisement for Stromberg-Voisinet's new guitar  Image Credit:  1922 Issue of The Music Trades Stromberg Tuners on a Bruno-branded gui...

Advertisement for Stromberg-Voisinet's new guitar 
Image Credit: 1922 Issue of The Music Trades

Stromberg Tuners on a Bruno-branded guitar
Image Credit: Facebook - Jim Cunningham

  (North is oriented to the right) Image Credit:  David Rumsey Map Collection - Blanchards 1906 Map Stromberg-Voisinet was formed in late 19...


(North is oriented to the right)
Image Credit: David Rumsey Map Collection - Blanchards 1906 Map

Stromberg-Voisinet was formed in late 1921 and began with their headquarters at 3406 Greenview Avenue in Chicago, Illinois [3]. Evidently this wasn't enough space because they had moved to the second floor of 312 Union Park Court before the end of 1922 [1]. They signed an initial lease at the location for 5 years at a price of $12,000. By 1929 their location was listed as 316 Union Park Court and I suspect they were renting the entire building at that point. Stromberg-Voisinet would continue to occupy that location until the company, then the Kay Musical Instrument Co, would move to Walnut Street in the mid 1930s [4]

Finding the Factory

Union Park Court no longer exists and finding the previous street name isn't quite a simple Google search away. Thanks to the Chicago Historic Society, Library of Congress, and various historic architecture websites I managed to start to piece together our modern maps with the maps at the time Stromberg-Voisinet was formed. 

Union Park Court ceased to be by at earliest 1937 and became North Laflin Street while it's parallel St. John became North Justine Street [5][6]. Union Park Ct. covered two to three blocks of industrial buildings and so I had to locate which building would've housed the factory. The street numbers are inconsistent so I wasn't going to take them at face value but instead try to determine where this factory would've sat. Most old city maps don't show individual building numbers and will sometimes have note block numbers but that wasn't the case here.

Fire Insurance Maps

In comes the Sanborn Map Company which spent nearly 50 years creating a detailed map of every block in Chicago. They passed through Union Park Court in 1916 so I wouldn't get to see what the factory looked like during S-V's time. Thankfully the Chicago Public Library has compiled an index of the Sanborn Map volumes and what streets they encompassed. Volume 6, published in 1916, covered the areas north of Madison Street between Halsted Street and Western Avenue.

Lot bordered by Carroll avenue to the North and Fulton to the South
Sanborn Fire Insurance Map Vol. 6, 1916 
Image Credit: Library of Congress

Zoomed version of the above screenshot

We can see '312' and '316' on the right hand side of the building which denotes the street number. This is the Stromberg-Voisinet factory five years before the company began. After locating a key to Sanborn maps, I could then determine what the building was. 'All 6' meant the building had 6 floors and 'A.S' in a circle meant the building had an automatic sprinkler system. The building did have electric power as well as a brick enclosed elevator in the south west corner. 

1938 Aerial Survey of the block
316 Union Park Ct is the tall building casting a shadow over it's neighbor
Image Credit: Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois

The Factory

Lucky us, 316 Union Park Court actually translates into the modern world as 316 N Laflin Street and the original building is still standing. It was renovated in the past 15 years.

S-V Factory Pre-Renovation - 2006
Image Credit: Cook County Treasurer

Stromberg-Voisinet Factory - Present Day
Image Credit: LoopNet.com

A drone pilot recorded a video in 2018 of the renovated structure


[1] https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Economist/ykZOAAAAYAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=stromberg+voisinet&pg=PA804&printsec=frontcover
[2] https://mtr.arcade-museum.com/MTR-1931-90-3/40/
[3] https://mtr.arcade-museum.com/MTR-1922-74-10/31/
[4] https://www.google.com/books/edition/Certified_List_of_Domestic_and_Foreign_C/uiD4HH-e8PgC?hl=en&gbpv=1&bsq=%22kay+musical+instrument%22+company&dq=%22kay+musical+instrument%22+company&printsec=frontcover
[5] http://chsmedia.org/househistory/nameChanges/start.pdf
[6] https://collections.lib.uwm.edu/digital/collection/agdm/id/22822/rec/123