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Lakewood Historical Society
14710 Lake Avenue
Lakewood, Ohio 44107
P: 216.221.7343
F: 216.221.0320
E: museum@lakewoodhistory.org

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Museum Hours
Sundays 2:00 to 5:00 p.m.
Wednesdays 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
February through November.
Closed major holidays.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Theodor Kundtz: An Online Exhibit

Items from the Lakewood Historical Society collection and the Kundtz family. Presented by the Lakewood Historical Society in conjunction with the Lakewood Public Library.

Theodor Kundtz was born July 1, 1852 in Metzenseifen, Hungary and immigrated to America twenty years later. He eventually became a major designer and producer of automotive bodies and one of Cleveland’s leading industrial giants. His first job in Cleveland in 1873 was with the Whitworth Company, a small woodworking establishment where he built cabinets for sewing machines. In 1876, Thomas H. White discovered Theodor Kundtz’ amazing artistry and “by 1879, Kundtz’ small factory had supplied all of White’s cabinetry.” “Fashioning sewing machines into functional art was Theodor Kundtz’ contribution to the industry and the cornerstone of his business success.” Five years later, he furthered his success by establishing a bicycle-wheel factory. By early 1900, the Theodor Kundtz Company was one of the first “vertically-integrated” businesses in America and around 1910 had occupied five plants in the Flats employing more than 2500 workers. Theodor Kundtz did not stop there. He expanded his company to include a division called Theodor Kundtz Automobile Bodies that designed and manufactured attractive automobile bodies for many different companies in the early 1900’s.

With more than fifty years of business success, Theodor Kundtz retired at the age of seventy-two to his enchanting estate located at 13826 Lake Avenue. Just as Theodor had done business on a grand scale, so too was his home, modeled after the beautiful castles he remembered seeing as a child. Constructed over a four-year period (1898-1902), his Lakewood Mansion boasted hand-painted ceilings, stained glass windows, exquisite statues, hand-carved furniture, elaborate fireplaces and even a bowling alley. Despite his enormous financial success, Theodor Kundtz was best known for his kindness toward employees, taking pride in his Hungarian heritage and his extreme generosity. Theodor Kundtz was a man ahead of his time and will long be remembered for his many amazing accomplishments.

Excerpts and Quotations taken from Tori in Amerika: The Story of Theodor Kundtz by Christopher Eiben.

Click on a picture to open a larger view in a new window.

illustrations from page of catalog

Page 17, Kundtz Bodies for Motor Trucks and Automobiles. Theodor Kundtz Company. Published by the Company in Cleveland, Ohio.
[Top illustration caption] "Van Body on 3-Ton Truck Owned by Smith & Hicks, Inc., Richmond, Va."
[Bottom illustration caption] "High Stake Body, One of Numerous Heavy Trucks Owned by the Gulf Refining Co. and Equipped with Kundtz Bodies"


illustrations from page of catalog

Page 22, Kundtz Bodies for Motor Trucks and Automobiles. Theodor Kundtz Company. Published by the Company in Cleveland, Ohio.
[Top illustration caption] "Type of Motor Transport Body Built for the United States Government"
[Bottom illustration caption] "Type of Motor Transport Body Built for the French Government"


illustrations from page of catalog

Page 26, Kundtz Bodies for Motor Trucks and Automobiles. Theodor Kundtz Company. Published by the Company in Cleveland, Ohio.
[Top illustration caption] "Kundtz Bodies of This Type Have Been Supplied for the Large Truck Fleet Owned by Kaufmann & Baer Company, Pittsburgh, Pa."
[Bottom illustration caption] "A Large Number of Trucks Owned by Kaufmann's Department Store, Pittsburgh, are Equipped with Kundtz Bodies of This Type"


lillustrations from page of catalog

Page 27, Kundtz Bodies for Motor Trucks and Automobiles. Theodor Kundtz Company. Published by the Company in Cleveland, Ohio.
[Top illustration caption] "Type of Body Supplied on Trucks Owned by Wm. Taylor Son & Co., Cleveland, Ohio"
[Bottom illustration caption] "Joseph Horne Co., Another Large Pittsburgh Store, Owns a Great Fleet of Trucks Equipped with Kundtz Bodies"


illustrations from page of catalog

Page 28, Kundtz Bodies for Motor Trucks and Automobiles. Theodor Kundtz Company. Published by the Company in Cleveland, Ohio.
[Top illustration caption] "Furniture Body on 1 1/2-Ton Truck. Several of This Type are Owned by The Halle Bros. Co., Cleveland, Ohio"
[Bottom illustration caption] "Spacious Enclosed Delivery Body. The Type Used by The Halle Bros. Co."


advertisement

Advertising piece, ca. 1931. 8 1/2" x 11" single-fold, printed both sides. Front.
[Text] "THE NEW CLEVELAND MUNICIPAL STADIUM 'KUNDTZ' EQUIPPED" "This huge bowl located on Cleveland's lake front will be completed during the summer of 1931. In it there will be 62,781 stadium chairs manufactured and installed by The Theodor Kundtz Company, also 5000 folding portable chairs for the field boxes. A Cleveland newspaper commenting upon the last awarded contract for the box chairs stated "the contract was awarded to The Theodor Kundtz Company at $8950.00—not the lowest bid, but the toughest chair."
"The THEODOR KUNDTZ COMPANY - CHURCH, SCHOOL, AUDITORIUM FURNITURE - Subsidiary White Sewing Machine Corp. - CLEVELAND, O."


advertising illustrations

 

--- Center spread.
[Text] "'KUNDTZ EQUIPPED SCHOOLS'" "Hundreds of schools throughout the country are equipped with Kundtz modern school desks and chairs, which keep the students at ease, foster concentration, and help maintain correct posture. Kundtz engineers, together with leading authorities in various fields of education, have anticipated changes in teaching methods, and have prepared the proper seating to effectively meet the requirements of the student."
[Illustrated in corners from top left, clockwise]: "Auditorium chairs" "No. 11-D"; "School desks" "No. 640," "No. 201," "No. 704."
[Illustrated school installations captions]: at top center - "Auditorium, West High School, Madison, Wisconsin; Law, Law and Potter, Architects"; at left - "Auditorium, John Hay High School, Cleveland George M. Hopkinson, Architect"; at right - "Science Room, John Hay High School, Cleveland."
"THE THEODOR KUNDTZ COMPANY - Subsidiary White Sewing Machine Corp."


advertisement from newspaper

--- Back page.
[Text] "CHANCEL FURNITURE AND PEWS BY KUNDTZ CRAFTMEN"
"An interior of permanent beauty is assured when Kundtz craftsmanship is specified for the chancel furniture, pews and decorative wood carving in and church. Kundtz craftsmen carry on the Gothic tradition that reredos, pulpit, clergy chairs and pews must always remain an integral part of the architectural design. The Theodor Kundtz Company maintains an architectural division of planning and designing for the builder and the architect."
"KUNDTZ CRAFTSMEN - CHURCH AND SCHOOL FURNITURE"


letter opener

8 inch brass advertising letter opener. Front. Affixed medallion [detail] [Medallion text] "THE THEODOR KUNDTZ CO." "CLEVELAND, O." "ECLIPSE SINGLE PEDESTAL DESK"

letter opener

--- Back. [Inscribed text]"MFR'S CABINETWORK PHONOGRAPHS DOWER CHESTS CHURCH SCHOOL AUDITORIUM FURNITURE" ""Bastian Bros. Co., Rochester, NY"


postcard

Postcard.
[Front text] "Theo Kundtz. Residence. Lake Ave. Clevleand. Ohio."
[Back text] "Published by Arcade Post Card & Novelty Shop, Cleveland, Ohio. Printed in Germany."


For more information on Theodor Kundtz:
Book remembers Kundtz as inventor and industrialist - Lakewood Lore article
Town really heated up when lumberyard burned down - Lakewood Lore article