Made in Chicagoland: Lyon and Healy Harps

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Two young men from Boston were dispatched by a music publisher to expand business in Chicago about 150 years ago. Not only did they start the company, but they ended up designing and crafting a beautiful instrument that continues to be coveted by musicians around the world.

The harp is known as one of the world's oldest instruments. Today, the harp most recognized around the world is made right here in Chicago's West Loop, at Lyon and Healy.

"Lyon and Healy was really the mecca of the harp world through the 20th century," said Steve Fritzmann, Lyon and Healy National Sales Manager.

Steve Fritzmann has been with the company for 36 years and was once a master harp maker himself.

"For any instrument, any musical player, it comes down to the feel and the tone. That's where we feel Lyon and Healy has its mark," Fritzmann said.

George Lyon and Patrick Healy founded the company in 1864. The store sold sheet music at first. But it soon expanded to harps.

Today, all of the nearly 2,000 pieces that comprise a single harp are still handcrafted. From the wood, to the body, to the mechanism which will eventually connect to the strings and pedals, it's a combination of tradition and innovation.

"Every piece is serialized. Each harp is handmade. A column for one harp wouldn't be interchangeable with another," Fritzmann said.

Every design is hand-carved. Real 23 karat gold is meticulously applied.

It takes two to three months before a harp is complete. Then comes rigorous testing to ensure the sound will be flawless.

Lyon and Healy harps are truly magnificent instruments. They weigh about 80 lbs. They cost anywhere from $3,000-$180,000.

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