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

3137 Van Aken

3137 Van Aken

Bloodgood Tuttle designed this English-style Demonstration Home at 3137 Van Aken Boulevard in 1924. A 1926 Van Seweringen Company newspaper advertisement likened the house to "some fine old home from the English countryside," but in the same sentence assured prospective buyers that it had been "Americanized with every modern aid to comfort and luxurious living." Image courtesy of the City of Shaker Heights Planning Department View File Details Page

"From Sunny Normandy"

"From Sunny Normandy"

The French design of the Demonstration Home at 18419 Van Aken Bouelvard is highlighted in the Van Sweringen Company advertisement (at left) which appeared in the Cleveland Plain Dealer in 1925. "Through many-paned casements [windows] and deep French doors," the ad reads, "bright sunshine floods every room in this charming Normandy house." The ad also mentions the home's "delightful book room," "a garden with its lion's head fountain," and "an entirely separate service stair" which led to the third-floor maid's quarters. Historic image courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Division of Special Collections Color image courtesy of the City of Shaker Heights Planning Department View File Details Page

18513 Van Aken

18513 Van Aken

A 1926 newspaper advertisement for the French-style Demonstration Home at 18513 Van Aken Boulevard referred to it as "A Modern Manoir...rich in Old World charm." The ad also assured the reader that the house "meets the rigid Van Sweringen requirements in every detail of materials, construction, and workmanship," because, after all, it was "built by The Van Sweringen Company itself, to set the right standard for its neighborhood." Image courtesy of the City of Shaker Heights Planning Department View File Details Page

"A Memory of Old France"

"A Memory of Old France"

"A Memory of Old France -- transplanted in Shaker Village," read the heading of a 1926 newspaper ad for the Demonstration Home at 18405 Van Aken Boulevard. The ad called the home "a French manoir of the 15th Century, made modern," and referred to its detached garage as looking "as quaintly charming in design as the most picturesque small cottage in all the chateau country." Image courtesy of the City of Shaker Heights Planning Department View File Details Page

3113 Van Aken Ad, 1926

3113 Van Aken Ad, 1926

This Van Sweringen Company newspaper advertisement for the house calls it "as interesting and as sturdy as its early American ancestry, and as modern as the Shaker Electric Express that passes nearby." Image Courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Division of Special Collections. View File Details Page

"Old-World Charm in Shaker Village"

"Old-World Charm in Shaker Village"

Bloodgood Tuttle designed this French-style Demonstration Home at 18435 Van Aken Boulevard in 1924. Historic image courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Division of Special Collections Color image courtesy of the City of Shaker Heights Planning Department View File Details Page

French Demonstration Homes

French Demonstration Homes

This cartoon appeared in a larger Van Sweringen Company newspaper advertisement in 1926. It shows three of Bloodgood Tuttle's French-style Demonstration Homes on Van Aken Bouelvard. There is the house inspired by "Romantic Normandy" at 18405 Van Aken, the "Formal French" design (said to be "a favorite of Louis XIV") of 18419 Van Aken, and the house "from the shores of Brittany" at 18513 Van Aken. Capping the ad's French theme are two aristocratic French ladies. Image Courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Division of Special Collections View File Details Page

3105 Van Aken

3105 Van Aken

"The fine dignity of its exterior gives way to intimate charm" in the house's interior, providing the "feeling of cheer and friendliness," stated a 1925 ad for the English-style Demonstration Home at 3105 Van Aken Boulevard. Image courtesy of the City of Shaker Heights Planning Department View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Michael Rotman, “Van Sweringen Demonstration Homes: Bloodgood Tuttle,” Cleveland Historical, accessed June 28, 2017, https://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/432.
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