Templar Motor Company

One of the great and unexpected joys of writing the Cool History of Cleveland blog is the occasionally connection you make with a reader. A few weeks past I received an email from a David Buehler who owns essentially the final set of Templar Motor Cars in the world. Truth is I didn’t know what Templar Motor Company was all about and while it is cool he owns the cars what was the Cleveland connection? Turns out Templar Motors was Lakewood, OH’s only automobile manufacturer. It is one of those cool great stories about Cleveland (and its neighbors) that I worry is slowly disappearing from us.

The stylish and fast Templar motor vehicle.

During the seven year existence of Templar Motor Company only produced 6,000 cars of which only 30 are believed to exist today. The Company was formed in 1916 by a group of Cleveland investors. By early 1917 – a new factory was erected at Halstead and Plover Streets in Lakewood, OH at a significant cost of $2.5 million. The plant was constructed with an annual car capacity of 5,000 units – but never in the company’s best year did it hit a third of that capacity. Templar’s first car was completed and displayed in 1917. However, the United States entered WWI that year and the factory, fulfilling its patriotic duty,  began to produce 155 mm shells. At this point nearly 1,000 individuals were employed at the plant.

Templar Motors - "Lakewood's Only Auto Manufacturer"

The adopted slogan of Templar Motor Company was, “The Superfine Small Car.” While the company was noted for its two-passenger sport roadster it also offered a fiver-passenger and four-passenger “sportette” model. All of which were moderately priced though much higher than the very successful Model T by Ford Motor Company. The company achieved modest success in 1918 and 1919 and under the tutelage of President M. F. Bramley had streamlined operations and added five new buildings for production at a cost of $1,000,000.

The perfect car for a summer ride.

Fun fact. In the summer of 1919, famous racing car driver – E. G. “Cannonball” Baker set a new world’s record in driving from New York to Chicago in a modified Templar vehicle. His record time of 26 hours and fifty minutes was an astounding six hours and ten minutes faster than the previous record.

Unfortunately, disaster struck Templar on December 31st, 1921 when the original three building plant burnt to the ground. The company successfully maintained production but never hit the 1918 and 1919 levels of car output and was in serious financial straits. Templar continued to plod along until the fall of 1924 when beset by poor financial conditions and shareholder lawsuits it finally closed its doors. More than 20,000 investors lost more than $6 million dollars (which would translate to more than $42 million today). But the cars were quite stunning and for a brief period of time captured the imagination of the U.S. with its built for speed reputation.

Businesses That Fade Away – Now Found

Last Sunday ther Plain Dealer printed a wonderful article entitled “Signs of Lost Times” by Marcia Pledger (one of my favs at the PD). I had the honor as author of “Lost Cleveland” of offering a little quote. Pretty cool. The article details the hundreds upon hundreds of signs that pay homage to Cleveland companies that no longer exist. I really enjoyed the read. A lot of my favorite signs were included in the photos section. To see the fabulous photos by Plain Dealer photographer – Thomas Ondrey click HERE.

One of the great outcomes of the article was an email I received from John TePas, the patriarch and genealogist of the TePas family, whose great grandfather came to Cleveland from Holland to found the Cleveland Co-Operative Stove Company. The Company just happened to be included in one of the many photos by Thomas Ondrey.

John’s email is below:

This one gave me goose bumps. Today’s Plain Dealer feature story in the Business Section has a story about businesses that have faded away, but the buildings and the identifying signs are still visible.  On the front page,  is the CLEVELAND CO-OPERATIVE STOVE CO.  where he made his living. I have searched fruitlessly for years trying to get a lock on this site and here it is

Now quoting directly from his obit in a 1903 Plain Dealer ” Deceased was a native of Holland and came to Cleveland in 1848.  He was one of the incorporators of the Cleveland Co-Operative Stove Company and for years was on its board of directors”. This helps explain his 1893 (??)  will wherein he left two houses and three lots to his sons John, Theodore, and Albert.

The sites listed below get you on the article and then further into it and lastly to the building.  

http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2011/04/signs_of_lost_times_northeast.html

http://photos.cleveland.com/4501/gallery/signs_of_history/index.html

http://photos.cleveland.com/plain-dealer/2011/04/clevelandcooperativejpg.html

For even m0re fun, go onto one of the satellite map sites,  maps.live.com or maps.google.ca/  and enter the address 2323 East 67, Cleveland, OH.  If you know your way around the Google site, you can see photos of the bldg from front and north side as well as close ups.It’s on the SE corner of Central & E 67with the Pennsylvania RR line on the rear.  I’m sure when Dad traveled to Washington as he did many times he took the Penn rr from the E 55 station and went right by his grandfather’s business, hopefully knowingly.  

-John

Thanks John for sharing your excitement and joy. I really appreciate it. The story, and John’s email, reminds me that Cleveland has so many stories to tell about its past and many mysteries to offer and for us to solve. Enjoy the links, Cleveland.

Campus Sweater Company – “One Damn Fine Mural”

All right Cleveland, do me a favor and check this photo out!

Photo provided courtesy of the Cleveland Press Archives.

Is this not the most spectacular sports mural you have ever seen? This was a Kenneth Bates mural created specifically for the lobby of the new Campus Sweater Company building at 3955 Euclid Avenue. Campus Sweater Company was launched in 1922 by entreprenuers Samuel Kaufmann and Loren Weber originally in the Warehouse District. The Company specialized in casual clothes, sportswear and sweaters. At one time it was the largest manufacturer of men’s clothing in the U.S. (Wasn’t everything in Cleveland once the “largest in the U.S.?) The Company was eventually acquired by Interco in 1968 and enjoyed good fortune in Cleveland until 1982 when the plant was closed ending any presence of Campus Sweater in Cleveland. The building became an office for the county.

What I find fascinating about the mural (outside of its gorgeous look) was that it was placed in front of a large “picture window” on Euclid Avenue so that everyone walking along the street could see this magnificant piece of art. Kenneth Bates, too, was a world renown artist who was based out of the Cleveland Institute of Art. The building this piece was a part of, I believe, is now gone – but I would love to know what happened to this great piece of art. Does anyone have any ideas? Please, please, please let me know.