LIMA — Herbert Ulrich Tuttle is remembered in marble at Woodlawn Cemetery, but many other monuments to Tuttle — these made of brick and mortar and glass and steel — stand all around Lima and the region.
Tuttle, the son of an American diplomat, was born in Germany and raised in New York State but built his legacy in Lima. As a general contractor for a half century, he also built a good part of the city’s future in the form of hospitals, schools, churches, factories and other public buildings. The business he started in 1928, Tuttle Construction, continues today. Among its recent projects is Mercy Health’s medical training center going up at the corner of Market and Collett streets in Lima.
He was born May 20, 1892, in the city of Chemnitz in eastern Germany, where his father, Frederick B. Tuttle, a native of Bennington, Vermont, was U.S. consul from 1888 to 1893. His mother, Gertrude Ulrich Tuttle, was a native of Chemnitz, whose father was a manufacturer of hosiery in the city.
In 1894, when Tuttle was about 2 years old, his family moved to Hoosick Falls, New York, near that state’s border with Vermont. Tuttle was graduated from high school in Hoosick Falls in 1909 and from The Ohio State University in 1913. He was employed by U.S. Steel Co. in Toledo before coming to Lima in April 1917 as resident engineer of the East North Street filtration plant and Lost Creek Reservoir. Tuttle served in the U.S. Navy from June 1918 until March 1919. On Oct. 28, 1919, he married Hazel M. Pennell, of Lima, and the couple had two children, Thomas F. and Phyllis A.
Thomas F. Tuttle would operate Tuttle Construction from about 1975 to 1990 while also being active in the Lima YMCA. Phyllis A. Tuttle, who married Richard Hill, also became involved in the family business, but was perhaps best known as a city golf champion.
In January 1920, the Lima Construction Co. was organized. According to an October 1926 ad in The Lima News, the firm specialized in “the construction of school buildings, churches, office buildings, industrial buildings and all types of large-scale erection,” which “are handled with the utmost ease by the Lima Construction Co., which was incorporated in 1920 with the following executives: W.C. Bradley, president; H.U. Tuttle, vice president and W.J. Fitzgerald, secretary-treasurer.”
In its first few years in business, the Lima Construction Co., among many projects, built the Elm View Terrace apartments on West Elm Street, factory buildings at the Superior Motor Coach Body Co. on East Kibby Street and, in 1926, an arcade in the 200 block of North Elizabeth Street that was billed as “Lima’s new sanitary food center.” The arcade was home to meat markets, fruit and vegetable dealers, and restaurants.
Tuttle organized his own business, H.U. Tuttle Construction Co., in 1928, and soon was landing contracts. “The Lima Sheet Metal Products Co. was occupying a new addition to the plant Saturday at North Charles Street and the Pennsylvania tracks and metal products were being turned out at top speed,” the News reported April 18, 1931. “The new addition, 60-by-115 feet, one story of steel, brick, concrete and glass, is of the ‘daylight’ design. The addition was built by Herbert U. Tuttle, Lima contractor.”
An even larger project in brick, concrete and glass came in the summer of 1939 when Tuttle won the contract to build a 223-by-180-foot roll machine shop at Ohio Steel. “The building will have a cement foundation, brick walls five feet high and thousands of panes of glass,” the News reported in June 1939.
During the 1930s and ‘40s, along with the major projects such as the work at Ohio Steel, the Lima Locomotive Works and the Goodyear plant in St. Marys, Tuttle also was involved in many smaller ones.
In an era when the family automobile was becoming more common, Tuttle constructed many of the gas stations that seemed to pop up at every intersection. Downtown, Tuttle remodeled The Lima News building on East High Street, Kibler’s men’s store and the Walgreen drug store on North Main Street and the Sears-Roebuck and Montgomery-Ward stores that dominated the southwest quadrant of the Public Square.
In 1939, when Lima welcomed a new minor league baseball franchise, Tuttle was chosen to remodel the city’s old baseball park. Michael V. DiSalle (president of the new Lima club and a future governor of Ohio) “reported an agreement had been reached with the Herbert U. Tuttle Co., a local contractor to begin work on reconstruction of Murphy Street park,” The News wrote March 9, 1939. “Work probably will be started Monday on erection of a grandstand, two bleachers and a 12-foot (high) fence.”
An ad in the New Year’s Day 1940 edition of the News touted some of the wide variety of jobs the contractor had recently completed, listing the Ohio Steel Foundry roll and machine shop, Lima Locomotive tank shop, Shell Oil pipeline terminal, Shell service station at Market and Union streets, Cridersville school, Payne school, Bluffton light plant, Shell station in Troy, Pure Oil station at North and Metcalf streets, Gulf service station at North Shore Drive and Metcalf Street, Gulf service station at Grand Avenue and West Street, Gulf service station at North and Washington streets, Gulf service station at Central Avenue and Kibby Street, and the Ohio Oil service station at Market and Union streets.
During World War II, as Lima retooled for war work, Tuttle played a significant role. On Jan. 23, 1944, the News announced that “a new industrial plant which will employ between 200 and 300 with a monthly payroll of from $40,000 to $80,000 will be in operation in Lima in about six weeks.” That plant, to be operated by the Lennox Furnace Co. to machine aircraft parts, would go into the former Banta candy factory building on the northeast corner of Central Avenue and Elm Street. The remodeling of the building, the News added, would be handled by Tuttle.
Later in 1944, when Allen County announced plans for a war memorial on the east side of the County Courthouse containing the names all men and women from the county who served during World War II, Tuttle was given the contract to construct it. And, in April 1947, when the county decided it was time to dismantle the memorial, the News reported that “Herbert U. Tuttle, contractor for erection of the memorial, is to be given the contract for its removal.”
In 1950, Tuttle branched out into another business. “Coon Lumber and Builders Supply, 340 E. High St., was purchased Saturday by a Lima corporation headed by H.U. Tuttle, Lima contractor,” the News wrote Jan. 8, 1950. “Tuttle is president of the new corporation, Mrs. Richard Hill (the former Phyllis A. Tuttle) is vice president, Richard Hill is secretary and Thomas F. Tuttle is treasurer. Capitalized at $100,000, the corporation will operate as the Tuttle Lumber Co. Involved in the sale were all the Lima assets of the company. The land was purchased by Tuttle Realty Co. from the Stamets estate two years ago.”
That same year, Tuttle turned over the keys to the new Lincoln School at Kibby and Pierce streets to the president of the Lima Board of Education. The school was one of several Tuttle would construct or remodel in Lima and elsewhere. “The Lincoln building is the first to be completed in the $3 million improvement program voted by citizens of Lima,” the News wrote June 17, 1950.
Reach Greg Hoersten at email@example.com.