History of the Schantz Organ Company to be shared

History of the Schantz Organ Company to be shared

In the early part of the 20th century, A.J.’s sons joined him in his organ-building shop.


A history of the Schantz Organ Company of Orrville is the latest addition to the speaker series presented throughout the year by the County Line Historical Society.

The presentation by company President Victor Schantz is scheduled for Saturday, June 15 at 1 p.m. The venue for this presentation has changed from the usual location. It will be held at Shreve Presbyterian Church, 343 N. Market St., Shreve. The reason for the move is to share a little of the company history firsthand.

“There is a Schantz organ at Shreve Presbyterian,” Jayne Neal of County Line Historical Society said. “It has been in place there since 1915 and is still played every Sunday.”

Neal said she turned to Schantz to add to the society’s speaker series as the organ company has played an important role in area history and continues to do so. “Victor Schantz is owner of the family company, and we felt he would be an excellent speaker,” she said.

“My great-grandfather, Abraham J. Tschantz (later changed to Schantz), built the organ at Shreve Presbyterian,” Schantz said. “The fact that it’s still there and in use is, in and of itself, pretty historically interesting. The church is really the perfect place to get people together to hear the story. Our company has been around a long time, and our organs tend to last a long time.”

Schantz said his ancestors were tied closely to the Anabaptist movement that brought settlement to Wayne County in the early 1800s.

“My ancestors settled here in the 1820s, and my great-grandfather came along a couple of generations later. He began a furniture- and cabinet-making business right on the farm where he lived, which was successful. By the time he was 18, he had other men working for him,” Schantz said.

Schantz said parlor organs were very popular at the time for home entertainment. “Families would gather around a reed organ in the front parlor and sing in those days before electricity,” he said. “One of those organs came to him for repair, and he became fascinated with it, teaching himself how they were made and how they worked. He was naturally curious and inventive. He started his own company in 1873 to build reed parlor organs, which later became the Schantz Organ Company. It didn’t take long to move beyond making parlor organs into a larger concern.”

Schantz said growth progressed pretty logically from there. “The reed organ evolved into the electro-pneumatic pipe organ with the coming of electricity, and my great-grandfather developed a number of advances and inventions. He held a lot of patents and was responsible for a number of important developments,” he said.

Schantz said sons and grandsons of his great-grandfather continued the innovations and development, and today there are thousands of Schantz organs in churches all over the world. The company employs 25 people today.

Schantz Organ Company has occupied the same space at the corner of Oak and Walnut streets in Orrville since 1901. The firm repairs, maintains and restores pipe organs, as well as constructing instruments onsite for churches, cathedrals and other public spaces worldwide. It is the largest and oldest family-held pipe organ company.

“It’s wonderful that a historic organ is still making music a hundred years later,” Neal said of the instrument at Shreve Presbyterian. “This will be a really interesting talk.”

There is no charge or preregistration needed to attend. Schantz Organ Company is online at www.schantzorgan.com.

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