The Dagmar Hotel Investigation 12/11/2010
The Dagmar Hotel
50 Summit Avenue and Jonathan Street
name Dagmar is of Danish origin. The most notable of all ladies to have this name was Princess Marie Sophie Frederikke Dagmar
of Hesse-Kassel, Denmark (1757-1832) Married to the Russian Tsar Alexander Romanov, III she was the mother to the last Tsar
of Russia, Nicholas Romanov, II.
The man behind the building:
Mathias Peter Moller was born in Denmark in 1854. Upon coming to America, Moller became an apprentice
cabinetmaker in Pennsylvania then worked for an organ maker. By 1877 Moller had created his own pipe organ company and in
1881 he moved to Hagerstown, Maryland where he opened a factory on Potomac Avenue. It was from this factory that Moller built
and sold pipe organs to many of the most notable parishes, theaters and individuals in the nation. In 1892 Moller married
and fathered four children. His eldest daughter Mary was so named "Dagmar" for the Danish princess. It was with
that name that Mathias Moller set out on his next two business ventures.
In 1908 Moller purchased from Robert Crawford an automobile manufacturing company
then located on Summit Avenue in Hagerstown (two blocks from City Park). Moller/ Crawford automobiles were made mostly for
the taxi trade and were sold to cab companies all along the east coast. The most notable of the vehicles manufactured at the
Crawford/ Moller factory were the elegant, custom made "Dagmar" automobiles, so named for Moller's eldest daughter.
The Dagmar's were sold out of the offices and showroom located in the hotel that Moller built in 1911 (see second venture).
In 1909, Moller purchased land on the corner of West Antietam
Street and Summit Avenue to construct a hotel with the most "modern" and "fireproof" method of poured
concrete framework. The hotel, completed in 1911, was named "Dagmar" again for his eldest daughter and was designed
for sophistication and elegance. The hotel was originally built with only 6 floors but two additional floors were added just
prior to 1929. The hotel had 15 rooms on each floor, 11 (then) having a private bathroom and most rooms having a telephone.
The hotel boasted of serving fine food, comfortable rooms, fast service, and wonderful entertainment.
Until the Alexander House Hotel and Potomac Towers Apartments
were built, the Dagmar Hotel was the tallest building in Hagerstown. By the 1930's a number of large hotels had been built
in the Hagerstown area and the Dagmar Hotel had great competition. The hotel remained in the Moller family until it was sold
in the early 1940's.
four story building on the West Antietam Street side of the Dagmar Hotel was also purchased by Moller and became an "annex"
building. In 1944, Charles Papa purchased the building and opened it as the Hotel Charles
building to the side and rear of the hotel, located on the Jonathan Street side was built in 1968 and is known as College
Hall because it was used for a time as a dormitory for Hagerstown Business College now known as Kaplan College.
Today the Dagmar Hotel is registered for housing to homeless, disabled and low-income tenants by
the Community Action Council of Washington County. It also still serves the public as a nightly rate hotel. The hotel building
itself also serves the public with commercial business off the lobby area.
Mathias Moller died at the age of 82 on April 13, 1937. A visionary, Mathias Moller
also served the Hagerstown community as president of the Hagerstown Trust Company, was one of the founders of the Home Builders
Building and Loan, served for a time as the director of Kee-Mar College, was a Shriner (See Masonic Temple; Friendship Lodge
No. 84), and one of those who headed the movement to erect a YMCA in Hagerstown. The Moller family house on North Potomac
Avenue served as a temporary Medical Secretarial School under E.J. Hajek, founder of Hagerstown Business College (now known
as Kaplan College). The Moller Pipe Organ factory continued to make Moller brand pipe organs until it's closing in 1992. The
Moller Pipe Organ Company served the United States war effort during WWII by converting it's factory to build both propellers
and turret gun trainers for the U.S. Army and Navy. By 1927 fewer than 1,000 Dagmar automobiles had been sold and in 1939
The Crawford/ Moller Automobile Company closed its doors. The origianl automobile factory building on Summit Avenue was also
sold and turned into residential apartments, which is still known today as the Moller Apartments. The Dagmar Hotel, while
modernized, renovated, weathered, it still shows the beauty and style in its tiled floors, polished woodwork, and is considered
one of the finest examples of a "fireproof" building in the tristate area. (See the above "burn room"
photo for an example of how well the fire can be contained to one room)
The hotel and
hall acquired new owners in 2004, the annex building was not sold. The Dagmar Hotel was placed on the National Historical
Registry in August of 1979.
The land on which the Dagmar sits was originally owned by the Stouffer family and was the second site of the St. Johns
Episcopal Church built in 1817. After the church burned down it was rebuilt in 1872 on South Prospect Street. There does not
appear to be any records of burials on that site however there is mention that some graves were "relocated" to the
site of the present cemetery on the present church grounds. The present church has a Moller pipe organ which they received
The Stouffer/ Darner business was located there until 1895 after Stouffer sold
his share and the business became C.E. Darner and Son Monument Works which remained in a West Antietam location until 1955.
Hilton Smith, former owner of the Dagmar Hotel (2004) still owns the "annex" building
known as the Charles Apartment Building. Manish Mehta and wife purchased the Dagmar and College Hall in July 2004.
Researched and prepared by Cathy Gasch and Shannon Greene
for the use by Antietam Paranormal Society. December 2010