Pipe Organ Database

a project of the organ historical society

W. W. Kimball Co. View Extant Instruments View Instruments

Distinction:

Established Chicago, Illinois 1857; ended organ production 1942.
Classification: Builder

Update This Entry
May 07, 2018:

From the OHS Organ Database Builders editor, Stephen Hall, February 5, 2017. -

Epilogue - After the War

Kimball did not resume pipe organ production after the war, but did resume piano production. The piano division also had a branch building small electronic organs, mostly home entertainment devices. The piano division did not do well after the war, the new factory in Melrose Park was a major financial strain, and the quality of its instruments were not up to the standards of pre-war production. The firm was sold to the Jasper Corporation, a maker of cabinetry and office furniture, in 1959. Piano production was relocated to West Baden, Indiana, where the company gained a new life and began to grow. By 1969, Kimball was once again the world's largest piano company. In 1966, Jasper purchased the Austrian piano maker firm, Bösendorfer. In 1974, the company changed names and became Kimball International. The company went public in 1976.

The demise of Kimball's second reign as leading piano producer came about slowly due to the decline in piano and organ purchases through the 1980s and 1990s; the electronic organs were phased out in the 1980s, and the parent company closed the Kimball piano subsidiary in February 1996. The Bösendorfer piano brand continued unaffected, but was sold to Austrian buyers in 2002. It is now a subsidiary of the Yamaha Corp for marketing and finance, but remains an independent manufacturing operation. Kimball remains in business as a manufacturer of office furniture, but no longer has any connection with the making of musical instruments.

Sources:

  • Kimball International, accessed February 5, 2017, http://www.kimball.com/kimball_history.aspx.
  • Bösendorfer GmbH, accessed February 5, 2017, https://www.boesendorfer.com/en-us/about/history.

We received the most recent update for this note from Database Manager on October 15, 2019.

October 30, 2004:

From the OHS PC Database, derived from A Guide to North American Organbuilders, by David H. Fox (Richmond, Va.: Organ Historical Society, 1991). Edited February 5, 2017, (Hall). -

The W. W. Kimball Co. was established by William W. Kimball in Chicago, Illinois, 1857. The company originally sold products of other firms; it began manufacturing: reed organs, 1859; pianos, 1887; portable pipe organs, 1891; and 'stationary' pipe organs, 1894. The firm acquired Lansing Music Co., 1889. It ceased reed organ production on September 30, 1922. The firm acquired Welte-Tripp Organ Corporation of South Beach, Connecticut, in 1931. Kimball ceased pipe organ production on September 26, 1942 due to war time restrictions; the company made laboratory furniture during World War II.

The W. W. Kimball Co. was acquired by the Jasper Corporation of Jasper, Indiana, in 1959.

Staff: Fredrich Alzner; John G. B. Astenius; Balcom & Vaughan; E. B. Bartlett; Carl A. Benson; George J. Bohen; Henry J. Carruthers; Joseph J. Carruthers; Lloyd. M. Davey; Harry A. DeBold; John Dewar; Nicholas Doerr; G. A. Dominique; Harry Durst; Robert L. Eby; Gus Edwards; Eilers Music Co.; Robert P. Elliot; J. K. Fagan; Stanley H. Fargher; Alfred B. Fleming; J. Vern Fridlund; Oscar J. Hagstrom; H. M. Hansen; Maurice E. Hardy; Walter D. Hardy; Frederic W. Hedgeland; Max Hess; Earl B. Hough; Howard; Huseby; J. B. Jamison; Charles Jantzen; Edward D. Jardine; Curtis N. Kimball; David W. Kimball; William B. King; Edwin A. Kraft; Emory W. Lane; Eugene Licome; A. D. Longmore; W. W. Lufkin; Harry McGaw; Ole G. Malmquist; Fred W. Meller; Frank A. Meyer; George T. Michel; M. H. Millard; Frank T. Milner; Wesley B. Milner; Leonard D. Morris; Frank H. Nieman; Ferdinand Oechsner; L. C. Page; Earl Pavette; Pipe Organ Service Co.; E. E. Riley; David Schaub; (John C. Swinford?); C. E. Sylvester; Arthur R. Temple; Edward R. Tourison, Jr.; William C. Verney; Morton B. Welch; Charles C. White; Bartholomew Wiener; B. L. Wilson; Philipp Wirsching; Stanley W. Williams; John Wright.

Sources:

  • American Musician; June 22, 1889, 15.
  • American Musician; November 2, 1889, 24.
  • The Diapason: February 1925, 6.
  • The Diapason: August 1931, 1.
  • The Diapason: February 1942, 24.
  • Robert F. Gellerman, The American Reed Organ (Vestal, NY: The Vestal Press, 1973), 16.
  • David Junchen, Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ, vol. 1 (Pasadena: Showcase Publications, 1985), 206.
  • Piano and Organ Purchaser's Guide, Purchaser's Guide to the Music Industries, (Music Trades, New York).

We received the most recent update for this note from Database Manager on October 15, 2019.

Database Specs:

  • 885 Organs
  • 6 Divisions
  • 11 Consoles

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