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Motter printing presses: ‘Newspapers … around the world purchased these York-made presses’

An air raid siren found atop of the Yorktowne Hotel is shown on display at the Agricultural and Industrial Museum in York. The museum is housed in the George F. Motter & Sons complex. (See additional photo below.) Also of interest: When a Pullman automobile became a seesaw and On Second Saturdays: ‘It’s really cool that the Heritage Trust started this program’ and World War II-era air raid siren discovered atop Yorktowne Hotel.
An informed member of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute class that I’m teaching passionately told others about York industrialist’s John C. Motter’s insistence on precision in the printing press equipment he made.
Other machining companies talked about allowable tolerances, but Motter insisted on being right on the mark.
That discussion reminded me that I’ve never sorted out the various Motters so clearly linked with printing press manufacturing in York County.
Fortunately, the York County Heritage Trust’s Spring 2010 newsletter laid it out:

Two Agricultural and Industrial Museum patrons, Stephanie Williams and her mother, Ethel Smith, are seen through the rear window of a 1922 Hanover Roadster in this 2008 photograph. Other classic cars on display at the museum are seen in the background.

– Frey, Motter and Company started in 1874 along the West Princess Street at the Northern Central Railroad.
– In 1895, the company was operating as George F. Motter and Sons, producer of boilers, radiators and “machinery of all kinds.”
– By the 1920s, the company had moved into six buildings, and its product line included printing presses. “Newspapers and magazine companies around the world purchased these York-made presses,” the newsletter stated.
– In 1953, John C. Motter left the company. (He was joined by his sons John Jr., and Frank.)
– George F. Motter & Sons ran a machinery operation until 1957, and Therm-Air later made refrigerator equipment there via a lease with Samuel Machinery Co.
– The buildings were vacant from the late 1970s until 1993 when they became part of the Industrial Museum and later the Agricultural and Industrial Museum when the ag part moved from the old Eastern Market along East Market Street.

Meanwhile, according to news media reports, the John C. Motter operations continued until early 1990-91, when Koenig and Bauer took over the Springettsbury Township Motter plant and began operations as KBA-Motter.
KBA North America, as it was then known, closed the local plant in 2007.
So the Motter name no longer presides over machining and printing press operations, but it remains in the minds of people who remember excellence in craftsmanship.
And the family’s name is forever linked with old George Motter plant – the Agricultural and Industrial Museum – open for visitation today.
Photos courtesy of the York Daily Record/Sunday News