History of the
Mueller Furniture Company
Transcribed from original typed copy, written by either J. Frederick Mueller or his son, Frederick H. Mueller. The document is undated, however it was probably written between 1926 and 1930, based on the dates of death of some of the individuals.
This company was originally organized in 1892 as the Mueller and Slack Company, manufacturing a line of upholstered furniture for the living room, reception hall, and parlor. The original organizers of the company were Hugh E. Wilson, Lee M. Hutchins, James A. Stoel, James Gallagher, O. A. Kiel, A. W. Slack, and J. Fred Mueller.
The first president of the company was Mr. Mueller, Mr. Slack, the first vice-president, and Mr. Wilson as first secretary and treasurer.
Mr. Mueller got his early training at the Phoenix Furniture Company, being in their employ for twelve years, starting there working in the factory, then in the office and in the salesroom. For a little more than a year he traveled for the Grand Rapids Parlor Furniture Company.
Mr. Slack was for fifteen years in the employ of C. C. Holton of Chicago who was at that time manufacturing a line of upholstered furniture in that city. Later he traveled for the Grand Rapids Parlor Furniture Company.
Hugh Wilson was a lawyer of the city and later was largely instrumental in starting the Grand Rapids Trust Company.
Of the original organizers, four are still living: James A. Stoel, "Retire", living in the city; O. A. Kiel, living in Los Angeles; Lee M. Hutchins of this city, President of the Hazeltine-Perkins Drug Company; and J. Fred Mueller, senior member of the present Mueller Furniture Company.
In 1915 Frederick H. Mueller, son of J. Frederick Mueller, acquired an interest in the business and in 1919 when Mr. Slack retired he bought his interest also. In 1920 it seemed for the best interests of the company to change from a corporation to a partnership and it was necessary to change the name of the company to the Mueller Furniture Company; Mr. Mueller, Sr., and Jr., being the principal partners.
The original location of the company was on the corner of Monroe and Huron Street, occupying part of the upper floor, (about 12,000 feet) now occupied by the Heyman Furniture Company. In 1900 they bought the old New England Furniture Company plant on Monroe Street north of Trowbridge Street. This gave them about 27,000 feet of floor space which was needed for increased business. A few years later they bought the vacant lot 100 x 1000 on the corner of Monroe and Trowbridge and in 1909 erected a building on this 50 x 100 feet, five stores high, doubling their floor space, and again in 1923 they put up an additional building of six stories 50 x 100, also putting another story on the building on the corner. In 1925 again feeling the need of additional room in the factory they leased the front half of the New Fine Arts Building for showroom purposes, enabling them to do away with the showroom at the factory. They now occupy a floor space of nearly 100,000 feet.
Mr. Mueller, Sr., has been identified with the furniture industry of Grand Rapids for more than fifty years and is the dean of the furniture industry in Grand Rapids. Mr. Mueller, Sr., died in 1949.
Contributed by Margot (Mueller) Else, great granddaughter of J. Frederick
Mueller and granddaughter of Frederick H. Mueller.
Created: 9 April 2002