By the 1870s, more business flowed toward Richmond, Indiana. In 1872, George Trayser, a renowned piano maker from Germany who had previously maintained factories in Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio, and had been awarded several U.S. patents for his innovative piano technology, moved his operations along the Whitewater Gorge. This move, funded by local businessmen James M. Starr and Richard Jackson, marked the beginning of Richmond’s music industry. While the name of the piano factory changed several times as the business was passed from investor to investor—the Trayser Piano Company, the Chase Piano Company, the James M. Starr and Co., and finally, in 1893, the Starr Piano Company – its success and the quality of its award-winning pianos remained constant. By 1915, Starr Piano Company showrooms dotted the Midwest. In addition to Starr pianos, the factory manufactured and sold pianos bearing brand names including Duchess, Remington, Richmond, and Trayser.  

 The Rise of the Gennett Family 

In the 1880s, a Nashville, Tennesse, piano and organ retailer began selling Starr pianos across the south. This proved to be an eventful partnership when, in 1893, two employees from this retailer, Henry Gennett and his father-in-law John Lumsden, became investors in the Starr Piano Company. Ultimately, Henry Gennett took over the Starr Piano Company and brought his sons Harry, Clarence, and Fred into the operation. Under Gennett’s leadership, the company began diversifying its catalog by adding player pianos and phonographs to its manufacturing line-up in the early 1900s. The company’s facilities continued to grow and expand (the last building was constructed in 1920) to encompass 35 acres and 24 buildings in Richmond. 

The Decline of the Starr Piano Company and Present Day 

The Great Depression put an end to nearly all musical manufacturing for the Starr Piano Company. The sprawling complex fell into disrepair, and most of the buildings were torn down in the 1980s. The land that once held the Starr Piano Factory is now nestled in Whitewater Valley Gorge Park, which boasts nature trails and picnic areas around what is now called the Starr Gennett Historic Site. The only remaining building, known as the Starr Gennett or “Logo” Building, was saved after a major fire in 1993. The once six-story building has been stabilized and transformed into an amphitheater and is used for various cultural events and festivals.  

Today, the Starr Gennett Foundation, in collaboration with the Richmond Parks Department and community investors, works to keep the spirit of this remarkable company alive.  




101 S 1st St, Richmond, IN 47374