Harry Merrill & Son and the LeGar building, in which we are located, both have a very interesting and storied past. The LeGar Building, located at 124 S. 8th Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, dates back to the 1800’s and once housed a “Speak Easy” in the basement, during prohibition.
Harry Merrill started out as Harry Schemerelson, a very well known sports writer for the Philadelphia Record Newspaper. He wrote a boxing column under the name Harry Merrill. The column was very well known throughout the city and surrounding area, under the heading “In This Corner with Harry Merrill.”
In the 1940s it was common practice to take ethnic names and make them more generic, so Harry’s editor at the Record said the name Schmerelson aloud and said “I hear a Merrill in there” and thus Harry Merrill was the name going forward.
In 1947 the Philadelphia Record went on strike, and eventually closed. Harry’s brother-in-law was in the jewelry business on Jewelers Row and he invited Harry to join him in his store.He knew that Harry’s celebrity in the city and surrounding suburbs would serve to make him a success in the jewelry field. In 1954 Harry purchased the business from his brother-in-law and brought in his eldest son Steve and his daughter Iris. They renamed the business Harry Merrill & Son, Inc. and the 2nd generation was on board.
Harry brought his warm, larger than life personality, and his family way of doing business to the store, and this lead to a major expansion and growth of the business. The store was a regular stop for athletes, actors and entertainers of every type. Jim Bunting (now a US Senator), Gene Mauch, Greg Luzinski, Richie Allen, Jimmy Durante, Sammy Davis, Jr., Wilt Chamberlain, Bob “Hound Dog” Kelly, along with many of the Phillies, Flyers, 76ers, Eagles, singers, comedians, entertainers and the like, were all regulars in the store.
Harry, Steve and Iris introduced exclusive watch lines, diamonds, gold jewelry and many more innovative products and treated each and every customer like family. People were very pleased to have the family style customer service and hands on attention to detail when they purchased their jewelry. Word of Harry Merrill & Son spread to friends and family as customers were eager to share their experiences at the store. Soon, fathers were coming in with their sons and daughters to purchase their engagement ring from Harry Merrill & Son, just as they had done years earlier, and now we are seeing grandchildren of our original customers coming in for engagement rings and other jewelry.
In 1997 Iris introduced her son Robert to the business and many new products and services were soon to follow. Roberty designed and built the Harry Merrill & Son website www.Hmerrill.com, which expanded Harry Merrill & Son into an international jewelry business. We have made custom rings for customers across the United States as well as England, Spain, Canada, Australia, The Netherlands and more.
Robert also introduced custom computer design and “ReDesign.” This unique process enables the customer to create most anything they have in mind and to view it via 3-D renderings prior to any metal work being done. The customer can then make revisions to be sure that they are getting exactly what they have in mind. Robert represents the 3rd generation of Harry Merrill & Son and will continue to grow and steer the company forward for the 4th generation and beyond.