The factory was over 200,000 square feet and called a "marvel" by the President.Other piano manufacturers of that era include Knabe Pianoforte Company, Hazelton Piano, Steck Piano, Decker Brothers Piano Company, Mehlin Piano, Behr Brothers Piano, Strauch, Haines, Schuber, Victor Fletcher Piano, etc.Included in that group were Steinway and Kimball piano companies who were the only two manufacturers to survive to date.One of the key developments that enabled companies like Chickering Piano Company to flourish during the late 19th century, were manufacturing improvements that had been instituted earlier in the century.During the 1890's, the music business was one of the top industries in America.It consisted of at least 2 - 300 piano makers, over 100 reed organ companies, several hundred musical instrument makers, (such as brass instruments) and printed music publishing firms.Chickerings usually have a full tone in the bass register but somewhat less powerful in the tenor and treble as compared to other the brands; i.e. They can be excellent instruments for the beginner, intermediate and advanced players.
The piano industry was because of its size, one of national importance.For example, President Grover Cleveland was the featured speaker at the opening ceremony for the Chickering Piano Company Factory in Boston in 1887.Lighter tone or structure is not the same as saying that Chickerings were inferior. They were just designed and built with a different intention.In the United States, the late 19th Century was the Golden Age of the Music Industry.
I have serviced numerous Chickering and Sons pianos over the years.
As is the case with many older original piano brands that I have seen, some were in a state of disrepair and others were better maintained and produced quite a lovely tone.