Filed Under Industry

A Tinnerman Presence

A Story about Industry and Neighborhood

School children walking past the northwest corner of Franklin Boulevard and West 65th Street will someday remember it as where the Rite Aid neighborhood drugstore was located. Adults in the neighborhood remember that it used to be where the old Pick-N-Pay grocery store stood. Only the older residents of the neighborhood remember that up until the mid-1960s the Kaufman Funeral Home stood on this corner. And perhaps there are only a few, if any, left in the neighborhood who remember that, before it was the Kaufman Funeral Home, the grand old house on the corner of Franklin Boulevard and West 65th Street belonged to George August Tinnerman, a German immigrant who launched one of the great industrial enterprises in the history of Cleveland.

George August Tinnerman was born in Bavaria in 1845. In 1847, the year before the 1848 Revolutions which shook central Europe from Vienna to Paris, George immigrated to America with his parents Henry and Sophia Tinnerman. Like his father who was a wheelright, George entered the trades but as a tinner. In 1868, he opened a hardware store on Lorain Avenue--just east of its intersection with Fulton Road. Among the products George sold were cast iron stoves. In 1875, according to his son Albert, George became dissatisfied with the cumbersome cast iron stoves and invented the first steel range--a forerunner of today's range stoves. George became so successful in selling his new steel stoves that, in 1913, he closed his hardware store and began to exclusively manufacture stoves and ranges.

In 1890, as George Tinnerman grew financially successful, he and his family moved from their house on Fulton, which abutted the Tinnerman stove and range manufacturing plant, to a more fashionable address on the northwest corner of Franklin Boulevard and Gordon Street (now West 65th Street). George and his wife Caroline completed the raising of their four children in this house, and, when the children became adults, three of them acquired houses on Franklin Boulevard in the 6000-7000 block--none more than a few minutes walk from their parents' home on the corner of West 65th. Members of the Tinnerman family continued to live on Franklin Boulevard until well into the decade of the 1940s.

In 1922, George A. Tinnerman died and his son Albert H. Tinnerman, who until 1938 lived at 6910 Franklin Boulevard, took over the family business. In 1925, Albert invented a new fastener for stoves called a "speed nut." As it turned out, Albert's invention had application not only in the manufacture of stoves, but also in the manufacture of automobiles and aircraft. In the 1930s, Albert's son, George A. Tinnerman II, convinced Henry Ford to use the speed nuts in his automobiles, and in the 1940s, during World War II, the United States government also began using Tinnerman's speednuts in its aircraft. One source claimed that the federal government's use of the Tinnerman speed nut not only reduced the weight of American war planes, but also cut production time in half.

In 1950, Tinnerman Products-- now a national manufacturer of speed nuts and other clips and fasteners, moved from its original location on Fulton Road to a new state of the arts facility on Brookpark Road in the suburb of Brooklyn. During the decades of the 1950s and 1960s, Tinnerman Products continued to grow under the guidance of Albert Tinnerman and then his daughter Alberta Buttris, a third generation Tinnerman and granddaughter of George A. Tinnerman. In 1969, the company's separate corporate existence in Cleveland came to an end when it merged with Cleveland industrial giant, Eaton Corporation.

Today, the Tinnerman Stove and Range Company building at 2048 Fulton Road is home to Vista Color Imaging, a visual marketing solutions business. The former 100,000 square foot Tinnerman Products headquarters and factory in Brooklyn is now vacant and in search of a new business owner. And at the corner of Franklin Boulevard and West 65th Street, a Rite Aid drug store now stands where the fashionable home of George A. Tinnerman once stood. But, with three other homes of the George Tinnerman family still standing on the 6000-7000 block, you can still feel the Tinnerman presence on Franklin Boulevard.

Images

George A. Tinnerman House This grand mansion on the northwest corner of Franklin Boulevard and West 65th Street was built in 1890 for George A. Tinnerman, a German immigrant who started a hardware store in 1870 that eventually led to the creation of Tinnerman Products, one of the foremost Cleveland industrial businesses of the twentieth century.. The mansion served as the home for three generations of Tinnermans before being sold in 1946 to Carl Kaufman who operated a funeral home in the mansion for nearly two decades. The building was torn down in 1965 to make room for a Pick-N-Pay grocery store. Source: Cleveland Public Library, Special Photograph Collections
A Tinnerman Presence This 1922 Cleveland Plat map shows the location (outlined in red) of three of the four addresses in the 6000-7000 block of Franklin Boulevard that were the residences of members of the George A. Tinnerman family for much of the first half of the twentieth family. While the grand mansion at 6502 Franklin Boulevard is no longer standing, the houses of two of his children--Emma Tarnutzer and Frank Tinnerman, are still standing at, respectively, 6620 and 6103 Franklin Boulevard. A third home at 6910 Franklin Boulevard--not visible on this plat map, which was owned by George's son Albert, is also still standing. Image courtesy of Cleveland Public Library Digital Collections
Tinnerman Hardware Store In 1870, George A. Tinnerman, a tinner by trade, opened a hardware store on Lorain Avenue, just east of its intersection with Fulton Road. Among the products he sold at this store were cast iron stoves. George's dissatisfaction with these cumbersome stoves would inexorably lead to the creation of a new fastener called a "speed nut" that would revolutionize the the assembly of automobiles and aircraft in America. This sketch first appeared in the 1874 Cleveland Atlas. Image courtesy of Cleveland Public Library, Special Photograph Collections.
Tinnerman Stove and Range Co. This building which still stands at 2048 Fulton Road was the headquarters first of the Tinnerman Stove and Range Co. and later Tinnerman Products. In 1950, Tinnerman Products moved to a new facility in the Cleveland suburb of Brooklyn. This building was later used by the company for research and development. Image courtesy of Cleveland Public Library, Special Photograph Collections.
The new Tinnerman Products Headquarters This state of the arts manufacturing facility was built in 1950 by the Tinnerman Products Co. in the Cleveland suburb of Brooklyn. In the decades of the 1950s and 1960s, the company built several additions to the facility with the complex eventually consisting of over 100,000 square feet of office and factory space. A decade after the company's merger with Eaton Corporation, the facility at 8700 Brookpark Road was sold in 1983 to another Clevelander with a penchant for inventions--Joe Hrudka, the founder of Mr. Gasket Co. Image courtesy of Cleveland Public Library, Special Collections.
Answering Phones A receptionist at the new Tinnerman Products headquarters at 8700 Brookpark Road answers a phone on September 27, 1950. Image courtesy of Cleveland Public Library, Special Photograph Collections.
Foot-operated Presses Workers at the new Tinnerman Products factory at 8700 Brookpark Road, in Brooklyn, Ohio, operate presses with their feet in 1950. Image courtesy of Cleveland Public Library, Special Photograph Collections.
A. H. Tinnerman (1879-1961) Albert H. Tinnerman was the youngest son of German immigrant George A. Tinnerman. Like his father, Albert was a tinkerer. In order to solve the problem of the porcelain on the family company's stoves cracking when panels were screwed tightly together, Albert, in 1925, invented the "speed nut." The speed nut would later be used by Henry Ford in the manufacture of automobiles and by the U.S. government in its World War II aircraft. It revolutionized assembly lines in both industries. Image courtesy of Cleveland State University Library, Special Collections.
George A. Tinnerman II (1908-1983) Named after his immigrant grandfather, George A. Tinnerman II entered the family business in the 1920s. He was a tinkerer like his grandfather and father and held over 100 patents during his lifetime. He served as a vice-president and general manager of the company's production facility on Brookpark Road. In addition to being an industrialist, he was also a philanthropist. In 1947, he funded the Tinnerman Trophy for the Cleveland Air races, and in 1963 his family donated the Tinnerman family's summer home and grounds in Ontario, Canada to the Boy Scouts of America, who named it the Tinnerman Wilderness Canoe Base. Image courtesy of Cleveland State University Library, Special Collections.
Where the Tinnerman mansion once stood A Rite Aid drug store today occupies the land upon which the George A. Tinnerman mansion once stood. Not without a bit of irony, the Rite Aid drug store was responsible for the razing of the the Pick-N-Pay grocery store which had been built on the property in 1966. The Tinnerman mansion had been razed to make room for Pick-N-Pay grocery store. Some might say that more historic homes have been lost in Cleveland to grocery stores and drug stores than to any other cause. Image courtesy of Jim Dubelko

Location

6512 Franklin Blvd, Cleveland, OH. 44102

Metadata

Jim Dubelko, “A Tinnerman Presence,” Cleveland Historical, accessed August 15, 2022, https://clevelandhistorical.org/index.php/items/show/566.