Smith & Nixon Music Hall/Lyon & Healy Buildings
Life Span: 1864-1869, 1870, 1871
Location: (I), SW corner of Clark and Washington streets, 116 Washington st., near Clark st.; (II), Drake’s Block, Corner Wabash avenue and Washington street; (III), H. M. Higgins’ Building, 150 S. Clark St.
Architect: (I) Otto H. Matz, (II)John M. Van Osdel, (III) Unknown
Chicago Tribune, July 21, 1864
A very fine Music Hall is in course of erection for Smith and Nixon, on the corner of Washington and Clark streets—the opposite corner to the Chamber of Commerce building. The hall which is to be used for operatic or lecture purposes, will be in the centre of a fine block 108 feet front on Washington street, 152 on Clark. This block will be four stories in height with basement, and constructed of pressed brick, highly ornamented with carved stone work. Round the main entrance, which is on Washington street, sixteen feet wide, will be some handsome pilasters running the roof, where they terminate in a massive circular pediment. The windows will all be double beaded, and capped by finely cut arches, while intricately carved mullions separate each two, and every corner of the structure is relieved by handsome marble quoins. Round the roof an elegant medallion cornice will run, and over the main entrance, and at the two ends of the front of the structure will be massive marble balconies. The style of architecture is Florestine, and the cost of construction, including the slate roof, will be about $90,000. The music hall will be fitted up in a truly magnificent manner, and is situated in the very centre of the block, removed from all street sounds. Owing to its position it will be lighted from above.
The first of principal story of the block will be divided into four handsome stores, lit by fine plate glass windows, 5 feet by 12 feet, each pane. The entire front of the second story is leased to an Insurance Company, and the remainder of the building will be divided into brokers’ offices. large portion of the block is engaged by S. M. Fassett, who will open the finest photographic rooms in the city, and one of the largest stores is leased to a well-known jewelry firm. Otto H. Matz is the architect.
Lyon & Healy Building
Southwest Corner of Clark and Washington Streets
Chicago Tribune, December 12, 1864
THE NEW MUSIC HOUSE.—The elegant store forming the entrance to the new Music Hall of Messrs. Smith, Nixon & Ditson, on the corner of Washington and South Clark streets, is happily located for every association befitting music literature and wares, and its occupancy is shared for such purpose by Messrs. Lyon & Healy, who bring with them the prestige of long association with the house of the veteran Ditson, of Boston. They offer to the public and to the trade one of the most superb and complete stocks ever brought to this city, with premises extremely elegant and well lighted for its display and sale. Their relation to the first sources of the very best in all that pertains to their trade will make their store at once a favorite with the music-loving public.
Smith & Nixon Hall
A Strangers’ and Tourists’ Guide to the City of Chicago
Interior, Lyon & Healy’s Music Store
Clark & Washington Sts.
Stereoview by John Carbutt
Chicago Tribune, December 29, 1865
Smith & Nixon’s Hall.—A fine block was completed during then past year, under the architectural supervision of Otto H. Matz. It is four stories in height with basement, and is constructed of brick relieved by cut stone dressings. The block has a front of 108 feet on Washington street by 183 on Clark.
In the centre of the block is the large hall used during the summer and fall for public purposes, but now destined to be converted into commercial uses. Its chief fault has been, that its peculiarly distinct echo has been a nuisance, while the glare of the unrelieved whitened walls and ceiling was decidedly unpleasant to the eyes. The edifice cost over $100,000.
Chicago Illustrated, January, 1866
THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE building, shown on the right of this picture, is one of the latest of the many new and handsome public edifices erected of late years in Chicago. It is located at the south-east corner of La Salle and Washington streets, and fronts the Court-House square. To the east is the new building of Smith and Nixon; and still further to the east, at the corner of Clark street is the Methodist block.
The Land Owner, March, 1870
Chicago Tribune, February 5, 1870
Messrs. Smith & Nixon and Messrs. Lyon & Healy, the well-known music dealers, have removed from the corner of Washington and Clark streets, to a larger establishment at the corner of Wabash avenue and Washington street. This is probably the finest music store in the West, if not in the entire country. Drake’s Block, in which the store is located, is perhaps the most elegantly finished building in the city, and is a fitting home for the musical trade of the Northwest.
There are other stores devoted to the business of Smith & Nixon and Lyon & Healy. The corner, No. 96, is the retail department, and has been fixed up especially for that purpose. The appointments are elegant in every respect, and nothing has been left undone to gratify the most fastidious taste. Oak and black walnut enter into the composition of the handsome counters and cases. In the corner of the room is a handsomely arranged office.
Through an arched doorway, furnished with a glass door, the visitor enters the piano room, where the famous Steinway pianos are kept in large numbers. Messrs. Smith & Nixon control the piano business. They are the sole agents for the piano in the United States. They have also a house in Cincinnati, and are the oldest and largest piano dealers in the West. Off the piano room is the organ room, where all kinds of melodeons and organs are for sale. In connection with this department is a “dead room,” where owing to its peculiar construction, the least disarrangement or defect of any instrument can be at once detected by the trained ear. These rooms are Nos. 98 and 100.
Beneath these stores is the wholesale department, where all kinds of musical instruments, string and brass, are sold to dealers. The room is arranged to suit this trade. In the basement is also the elevator, boiler rooms, steam engine, &c.
In this splendid establishment are combined four specialties familiar and important to the musical world. They are Steinway’s pianos, Burdett’s organs, Ditson’s publications, and the office of the National Independent. The entire concern is a credit to the city, and merits the success and prosperity which are the due reward of energy and enterprise.
Chicago Evening Post, October 27, 1869
H. M. Higgins.
Over four years ago, the veteran dealer whose came heads this article began the manufacture of pianos for the Chicago market. He designed to and did produce an instrument first class in every respect, and, as a consequence, the “Higgins” stands to-day with hardly a rival among pianos. The judgement of skilled musicians, who have expressed themselves in our hearing, is that neither the Steinway nor Chickering surpasses it in tone and durability. With such an instrument, and under the live management of an energetic man, it is not to be wondered that the trade has outgrown all calculation, demanding to-day greatly enlarged quarters for its accommodation. The new rooms are just being occupied at 150 South Clark street, where our musically inclined readers will find by all odds the most elegant piano hall in the city. There is 30 feet width and 120 feet depth, with 16 feet ceilings, giving a splendid area for the exhibition and trial of instruments. The floor is of walnut and ash, 1¾ inch strips alternated, being both exceedingly desirable and handsome. The large windows are single plate French glass, that cost $400 each. In the rear, elegant offices are fitted, one for the use of the establishment, the other as an instruction room for that accomplished artist, Prof. Louis Meyers. This skillful performer, by the by, after thorough trial and investigation, adopts the Higgins piano, giving it in all cases an unqualified endorsement to his pupils.
It is the aim of Mr. Higgins to supply the demand in this city for first-class pianos, and to that end be guarantees to furnish instruments at from one to two hundred dollars less price each than other dealers dare make on goods of the same quality,
Furthermore, he will lease his pianos for a fair monthly payment, stipulating that at the end of one jeer, if the lessee desires, the instrument maybe taken on purchase, less the lease money paid. We were shown beautifully toned instruments to be rented as low as eight dollars per month. The veteran tuner, Mr. L. Amman, is still in Mr. H.’s employ, backed by fifteen years’ constant, satisfactory service. Mr. A. is perhaps the best tuner in the city, and those having fine instruments to be taken care of, will consult their own interest by leaving their orders with Mr. Higgins. Remember the place, 150 South Clark street.
Chicago Tribune, September 11, 1870
Lyon & Healy.
The recent fire occurred at a very unfortunate time for this firm, as both partners were indisposed, and one of them (Mr. Healy) had scarcely been at the store at all during the previous two weeks. Yet such was the emergency, that while the fire was raging, telegrams were sent to Boston and New York for new stock, and diligent search made for new quarters. This latter problem promised to be even more serious than that of replenishing the stock. But after some consideration, it was thought best to close with Mr. Hiram M. Higgins’ kind offer, who proposed to relinquish to them the lease of his commodious store at No. 150 Clark street. The new store is 50×120 feet, and Lyon & Healy occupy four stories, including the basement. In point of space, the present quarters are even superior to those in Drake’s Block. This place will be occupied until a more suitable one can be found, or the old store is rebuilt.
The goods orderd by telegraph are arriving even faster than they can be stored, and in a few days more Lyon & Healy will be able to fill all orders for musical merchandise as promptly as ever. Meanwhile, by the kindness of city dealers, orders have been filled with very little delay.
Many of the prominent music dealers in the East express their sympathy and offer all assistance in their power. Oliver Ditson, one of solid men of Boston, and the largest music-publisher in the world, in his usual laconic style, closes a letter to Lyon & Healy wuth this assurance:
If you want money you know where to come for it.
Lyin & Healy desire us to express their obligation to the enterprising houses of Root & Cady and their clerks, and to A. Reed & Sons, for valuable assistance rendered; and to many friends, both residents to the city and visitors, who spared no efforts and avoided no risks in the attempt to rescue property from the flames.
They were also particularly gratified at the self-sacrificing efforts of their own employes, who labored night and day in complete devotion to Lyon & Healy’s interests.
Bond & Chandler
Smith & Nixon Building
Plaque Illustrating Pre-Fire Lyon & Healy Stores
Chicago Tribune, November 19, 1871
Lyon & Healy.
Lyon & Healy, music dealers are in the East selecting a new stock, preparatory so starting the third time. Twice has the fire fiend prostrated their business, which previous to the great fire, ranked in amount of sales as the second largest in the United States. The recent fire swept away everything, and their losses were enormous, but we are pleased to learn that they have an unimpaired capital and handsome surplus. Messrs. Lyon & Healy have paid all claims against them in full; and, as they enjoy unlimited credit, will soon recover from the adversities of fortune.—New York Musical Bulletin.
Smith & Nixon Building Ruins
Smith & Nixon Music Hall
Southwest Corner of Clark and Washington streets
150 South Clark
Sanborn Fire Insurance Map