Upstairs in his office, away from the hubbub of workers dismantling and packing up pianos, Paul Murphy looked around his workspace at M. Steinert & Sons where his family has worked for well over a century.
“My office is still up to my neck from memorabilia,” he said. “It’s hard to figure out what to throw away.”
Still using his late grandfather’s office desk, Murphy, 71, said he is trying not to get too sentimental as M. Steinert & Sons, the last piano retailer left standing in the once bustling Piano Row District, moves out from its Boylston Street building, exactly 120 years to the day when that location opened.
“I’ve been in this building every day since , pretty much,” said Murphy, who also met his wife while she was employed at the store. “I’m going to find myself at the front steps after we move and say, ‘What am I doing here?’ ”
The relocation isn’t far, nor is it permanent. The only Steinway piano dealer in New England, Steinert & Sons is moving into a smaller storefront around the corner in the Park Plaza building for at least three years, while the new owners of its Boylston St. home gut and renovate that building. The new showroom is expected to open to the public Friday.
The company is downsizing from a lofty 20,000 square feet to about 3,800 square feet at the Park Plaza, said Brendan Murphy, Paul’s son and vice president of the company. The new location will include reduced office space and three teaching studios.
Steinert’s warehouse, restoration and repair operations will move to a 7,500-square-foot location on Damrell Street in South Boston early next year, Brendan Murphy said.
“It’s stressful. It’s definitely bittersweet,” Brendan Murphy said. “I’m walking through this building and it’s almost empty, as empty as it’s ever been in 120 years. There’s a lot of history and a whole lot of sentimental value.”
The company has been trying to thin down its 300-piano inventory with a series of promotions, selling more than a third of them in just the past month or so, compared to the usual pace of about one sale a day, Paul Murphy said.
Steinert was founded in 1860, with its headquarters moving to Boston in 1883. Steinert Hall on 162 Boylston St. was built in 1896, opening to the public that Dec. 16. The Murphys, who started working for the Steinerts in January 1897, bought the company in 1936.
“When we move everything out, including the offices, that’s going to be a tough day for sure,” Brendan Murphy said.
But some of the Murphys say they won’t miss the quirks of the old building.
“When the elevator breaks down, when the heat doesn’t come on, I’m [no longer] going to be worried about that,” said Paul Murphy. “I feel good about that, frankly.”