Van Sweringen Demonstration Homes: Bloodgood Tuttle

Bloodgood Tuttle and the Van Sweringen brothers were a perfect match for each other. The Van Sweringens used strict building codes to ensure that every house in Shaker Heights was constructed and designed in a sound and attractive manner. Tuttle, too, stressed the need for high-quality design and workmanship in home building, but unlike the famously reticent Van Sweringens, Tuttle was not afraid to share his impassioned views in public forums.

During a speech to the Building Construction Institute in 1933, for example, Tuttle stated that "90% of all buildings in Cleveland should be either razed or renovated." These remarks built on his 1931 article in the trade magazine "Building Arts," where he again used the figure of 90%, this time attaching it to the "percent of the small houses erected today [which] are badly designed ...The fundamental reason for this is the fact that the general public has not demanded better design." Of course, in Shaker Heights the Van Sweringen Company maintained a tight grip on the types of houses being built, limiting the options for the public whose poor taste and scrimping ways (not hiring an architect or relying on low-quality materials, for example) Bloodgood Tuttle so clearly disliked.

Tuttle designed nine Van Sweringen Demonstration Homes in two clusters along South Moreland Boulevard (later renamed Van Aken Boulevard) in 1924. Built early on in Shaker Heights' history, the Demonstration Homes provided potential home owners with examples of the high-quality type of home that could be found in the exclusive suburb. The first cluster of Tuttle's homes is located at 3105 Van Aken, 3113 Van Aken, 3125 Van Aken, 3137 Van Aken, and 3149 Van Aken. The second cluster, further southeast down the road, can be found at 18405 Van Aken, 18419 Van Aken, 18435 Van Aken, and 18513 Van Aken. The homes include three designed in English style, five featuring French design, and one designed in Dutch Colonial style. Tuttle, like the Van Sweringens, did not approve of Italian and Spanish-style houses being built in Cleveland, declaring them "better left in Florida and California," because "they are intended to keep out the sun while we want to let it in...since we get so little of it at best."

Before his death at age 47 in 1936, Tuttle went on to design more than 30 houses throughout Shaker Heights, and several more in the neighboring suburb of Cleveland Heights. The city designated his Demonstration Homes as Shaker Heights Landmarks in June 1983.

Images

Map