Grinnell was originally established in 1882 as "Grinnell Brothers", an organ manufacturer. Their factories were located at 1515 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, Michigan. Grinnell built their first pianos in 1902, starting with traditional upright and baby grand pianos. During the first quarter of the 20th Century, Grinnell increased their line of pianos to incorporate several models of upright, baby grand and player pianos, while at the same time slowly phasing out their organ production. In addition to building pianos under the names of "Grinnell" and "Grinnell Brothers", the firm built pianos under the brand names of "Lenard", "Clayton", "Playtona Player Pianos", "Holly", and "Uxbridge".
During the Great Depression when most American piano manufacturers were closing and merging with larger conglomerates, Grinnell remained a strong leader in American Piano Manufacturing. The company introduced a very successful line of spinet, console and apartment size baby grand pianos during the 1930's and 1940's, and the firm continued to flourish until the early 1960's. In the 1990's, the Grinnell name was revived in a limited number of pianos built by Samick International, a large Korean musical instrument manufacturing firm.