The East Main St. Studio, 1897


Main St at Burdick 1875c
Photo courtesy of the Clarence L. Miller Family History Room, Kalamazoo Public Library, Kalamazoo, Michigan

By September of 1897, Orville had moved his studio to a larger space on the second floor of 104 East Main. In the photo, it’s the second building from the right below where the ‘Business College’ sign hangs. This studio was above the Foster & Post five and dime store.

Among Orville’s output by this time was two complete sets of instruments, one for his own Orpheus Mandolin Club and one for the John W. McLouth Ideal Mandolin Orchestra.


Source: 1897 Kalamazoo City Directory
Source: 1897 Kalamazoo City Directory

Orville had previously advertised in the newspaper, but at this point he also placed a pictured ad in the 1897 Kalamazoo City Directory. This advertisement also answers my question as to whether he had an exhibit at the 1893 World’s Fair.




Source: Kalamazoo Daily Telegraph, October 13, 1897
Source: Kalamazoo Daily Telegraph, October 13, 1897

The first annual Kalamazoo Street Fair took place October 12-13-14 of 1897. Since his studio was on the second floor, Orville probably displayed his instruments and wares on the sidewalk below as did many other merchants.


The Barrow’s Music Company

Source: Kalamazoo Saturday Telegraph, August 3, 1895.
Source: Kalamazoo Saturday Telegraph, August 3, 1895.

Orville applied for his patent on May 11, 1895. Three months later, in August, this article appeared in the Kalamazoo Telegraph. The editor of the Telegraph was William L Eaton, a fellow stage brother of Orville’s who often wrote about and reviewed their stage activities. Taking this relationship into consideration, I feel the information in this article can be taken at face value.

Why Orville did not remain the in-house luthier at The Barrow’s Music Company is not known. But there are clues as to what may have been the reason. In 1891, Barrow’s became the Michigan selling agent for Waldo banjos and guitars. In 1895, they began manufacturing the Waldo brand themselves. This may have been a point of contention between Orville and Barrow’s as to whose name and whose design would prevail.

The length of time Orville was employed by Barrow’s is not known. It might have been a day, a week, or maybe a month. But in the September Saginaw newspapers, Barrow’s was still advertising the Waldo brand and design. My guess is that this information is buried somewhere in their business records, if those still exist.

Barrow’s  continued to manufacture a more traditional line of instruments and was later reorganized as the Waldo Manufacturing Company.

From his studio in Kalamazoo, Orville continued to flourish as an individual craftsman and serve an ever growing elite clientele.