The Luger Furniture Company was founded by brothers John and Ferdinand Luger, German immigrants who came to America in 1854, settling in Dubuque, Iowa. Cabinet-makers by trade in their homeland, John and Ferdinand immediately opened up a small shop in Dubuque where they plied their craft. Four years later they moved their shop to the junction of the Mississippi and Chippewa Rivers. Around 1860, the family moved to Wabasha, Minnesota, where the business became more formalized. For several years all the furniture was hand-made until horse power was introduced used to power the machinery, then in 1872 they installed a steam plant whereby further increasing capacity and operations. For some time the business was conducted under the name of Luger Brothers. Later a Mr. Dugan became a partner and the name was changed to Luger Brothers & Dugan, and a few years later, when Mr. Dugan sold his interest to a Mr. Box, the company name changed again to become Luger Brothers & Box. This last name was continued for two years. Then, in February, 1882, they incorporated and changed the name to the Luger Furniture Company.
The following appears in the book, "History of Wabasha County", published in 1884:
"Luger Furniture Company, office and salesroom on the south side of Main street, three doors from Alleghaney. This business, now conducted as a joint stock company, employing large capital and scores of workmen, was started in a very quiet way, by Ferdinand and John Luger, in 1861, at which time they started a small shop, doing hand-work, and supplying the retail trade of this section of the county. From this small beginning the industry has grown, enlarging from year to year as capital increased and demands for goods were created, until they have reached their present proportions, and are justly rated the largest furniture manufactory in southern Minnesota. The original shop was located on the east side of Pembroke, just north of the alley between Main and Second streets, and was afterward removed a few doors south of that location, a larger shop built and machinery driven by horse-power employed. From Pembroke street a change was made to Main street, north side, just west of the Wabasha bank, and in this location they remained until 1872, when their present manufactory was built on block 28, original town plat of Wabasha. Ten years afterward, March 15, 1882, the Luger Furniture Company was organized. This is a joint stock concern, capital one hundred thousand dollars, under the following management: president, Ferdinand Luger; secretary and treasurer, Frank J. Luger; superintendent, John Luger. The manufactory proper is a three-story frame structure, 35x100 feet, amply supplied with improved machinery for performing their work economically and with dispatch. The engine and boiler house, 24x40 feet, is furnished with an engine of thirty-five horsepower, the fuel for driving which is principally furnished from the refuse of the factory, except during the winter season, when a greater supply of steam is needed for heating purposes. The finishing room is 32x50 and the wareroom 144x32 feet. The business consists in the manufacture of all kinds of common furniture, chairs and bedsteads being their specialties. One of the principal markets for their goods is at Fargo, Dakota, where they have a warehouse and salesroom, for the distribution of their products throughout that section of the northwest. They have also a branch office at Moorhead, in this state. The business at that point is under the management of Ferdinand Luger, president of the company. The number of hands employed at the manufactory is from fifty to sixty, and the value of their manufactured products about two hundred and fifty thousand dollars per annum. Their supplies of hard and soft maple, butternut, oak, elm and basswood are drawn from the valley of the Chippewa. Their walnut is obtained in Iowa. The retail salesroom and office on Main street is 25x60 feet, and they occupy the entire second story of the block, the whole affording forty-five hundred square feet of floor room. The secretary of the company, Frank J. Luger, has an office comfortably fitted up in the rear of the salesroom, and the retail department of their business at this point is under his charge."
In the spring of 1887 the company broke ground on a new factory in North St. Paul, erecting a fifty-six by one hundred feet, three-story building; a single room, forty by fifty feet; two dry kilns, each thirty by sixty feet; a four-story warehouse, fifty-six by one hundred and twenty-five feet; and a few small buildings for storing lumber. Wabasha's loss of the Luger Furniture Company was significant, as was referenced in the "History of the St. Felix Parish", a church located in that city: "Father Wurst was faced with the problems of a parish decreasing in size. Sixty families had moved when the Luger Furniture Company moved from Wabasha to North Saint Paul." Sixty families--that would be a significant exodus for any congregation, small or large!
The North St. Paul factory was expanded over the years, having been doubled in capacity, and was considered to be on a par with any furniture factory in the United States. They also started a branch in Minneapolis, at first as sample rooms, and in 1890 they bought what was known as the Gilniore property at 173 Western Avenue, which they improved by erecting a building sixty by two hundred and seventy-five feet, four stories. Here they would maintain distributing rooms and have their main offices. In 1892, they organized a separate company named the St. Paul Table Company. The stockholders of the St. Paul Table Company were members of the Luger family and a few others, and the company proved to be quite successful. In 1909, the Lugers opened a distributing house in Spokane, Washington, under the supervision of a Joseph A. Luger. In 1911, the company installed the largest crude oil engine west of Chicago in their North St. Paul factory.
If you have general questions about the company or the Luger family, please feel free to contact me.