Encyclopedia o f Chicago
Entries : Kimball (W. W.) Co.
Kimball (W. W.) Co.

Kimball (W. W.) Co.

William W. Kimball, a native of Maine, moved from Iowa to Chicago in 1857, when he was 29 years old. Kimball made a living by renting pianos and selling sheet music. By the 1870s, his music store reported annual sales of nearly $1 million. At the beginning of the 1880s, Kimball opened his first factory, which made organs and pianos, at 26th and Rockwell Streets. By 1900, W. W. Kimball & Co. employed about 1,500 people at this facility. By the 1910s, the company was turning out more than 13,000 pianos each year, making it one of the top 10 manufacturers in the U.S. piano industry. During the 1950s, when it moved its main plant and general offices to suburban Melrose Park, the company continued to employ hundreds of Chicago-area residents. In 1959, Kimball was purchased by the Jasper Corp. of Jasper, Indiana, a maker of television cabinets; the piano plant moved to West Baden, Indiana. In 1974 the name of Jasper Corp. became Kimball International Inc.; at the end of the century, this company was still making Kimball pianos.