The THEODOR KUNDTZ CO. was a diversified manufacturing business specializing in wood products. Founded by Hungarian immigrant THEODOR KUNDTZ, the company operated as a sole proprietorship from 1878 until it was incorporated in 1915. The White Sewing Machine Co. (see WHITE CONSOLIDATED INDUSTRIES) acquired the company from Kundtz in 1925. From its modest beginning as a shop at 122 Elm St., the company grew into an industrial giant, manufacturing sewing machine cabinets, bicycle wheels, church and school furniture, and auto and truck bodies. By 1915 5 huge factories took up several city blocks near the SUPERIOR VIADUCT in the FLATS. The company was Cleveland's largest employer in the early 1900s, with 2,500 workers on the payroll, nearly all Hungarian in ancestry.
Renowned for its skilled artisans, the company manufactured the exquisite woodwork of the CUYAHOGA COUNTY COURTHOUSE on Lakeside Ave. and TRINITY CATHEDRAL on EUCLID AVE. Today more than 5,000 churches in 48 states have Kundtz cabinetry. In the early 1900s, the company designed and built bodies for Cleveland's automobile manufacturers, including Winton, White, Peerless, Stearns, and Murray. During World War I, the company made truck bodies for the allied war effort. The company was among the most progressive businesses of its day, instituting health and safety measures and providing worker's compensation long before required by law. By 1900 the company was one of America's first "vertically integrated" industries, controlling every aspect of turning hardwood trees into finished products.
The burning of the company's LAKEWOOD mill and lumberyard, 21-23 May 1920, still ranks as one of the largest, most spectacular fires in Cleveland's history.
Eiben, Christopher J. Tori in Amerika (1994).