Historic Structures

Cleveland Chandler Auto Company, Cleveland Ohio

Date added: October 23, 2015 Categories: Ohio Auto Companies Industrial

The history of The Chandler Motor Car Company is full of superlatives. The company had "a phenomenal growth," with "probably the most brilliant financial success of the industry, reckoning time as the prime measure." Its factory was "one of the largest automobile manufacturing plants in Cleveland," with "few equals ... from an industrial point of view." Its six-cylinder car "created a sensation" when first marketed, quickly becoming "a national favorite."

That success rests, in large part, with Frederick C. Chandler. He was born in Cleveland in 1874. By 1890, he had begun working for the H. A. Lozier and Company, a Cleveland manufacturer of sewing machines, boats, bicycles, and an early gasoline automobile, the Cleveland Tricycle. After the American Bicycle Company bought the company in 1899, H. A. Lozier began making a second automobile in Detroit. Frederick Chandler became the sales manager for The Lozier Motor Company on the West Coast and in Europe. By 1910 , he had become vice-president in charge of sales and, by 1911, Lozier's general manager.

Despite his success at Lozier, Frederick Chandler resigned in 1913 along with four Lozier executives, Samuel Regar, W.S.M. Mead, Charles A. Emise, and Sidney Black, and one Lozier engineer, John V. Whbeck. In February, 1913, those men founded The Chandler Motor Car Company. With an authorized capitalization of $425,000, the company had temporary offices in Cleveland's Swetland Building and at 982 Woodward Avenue in Detroit. The company also had a temporary factory in a garage on E 65th Street in Cleveland. F. C. Chandler served as the company's president; harles Emise, its vice-president; Samuel Regar, its treasurer,nd John Whitbeck, its engineer.

At the time of its organization, The Chandler Motor Car Company had options on a 6 acre site in an industrial area of Cleveland, along E. 131st Street and The Belt Line Railroad tracks. factory, designed by Ernest McGeorge, was begun on the site in ebruary, 1913, and completed by The Bolton and Pratt Company in une of that year. In the words of a contemporary writer, "the rowth of the Chandler factory has been one of the most rapid in leveland." Rapid, yes; but hardly innovative, for the plant's onitor roof and its brick bearing wall construction had been opular in the Cleveland auto industry a decade earlier. Chandler eeded a quick, inexpensive factory and, in 1913, bearing walls wth steel framing best fit the bill.

Largely intact, Chandler's building #1 has a one-story 400 foot by 120 foot manufacturing area with a 25 foot central clerestory pace and 15 foot side aisles. Steel columns and open web russes support the monitor roof, which is constructed of concrete labs and covered with tar and gravel. The brick bearing walls ave large, industrial-sash windows. Creosoted wood blocks on cement base coversthe floor.

Production in the plant began on July 1, 1913. At the September Chicago Automobile Show, Chandler's six-cylinder car attracted much attention because of its "new low" price of $1,785, as well as for such advanced features as its enclosed valve springs, its multiple disc clutch, and its Westinghouse electric starter. Aiming for the quantity production of automobiles, Chandler manufactured 550 autos in the last six months of 1913. That rate increased to 1,950 cars in 1914, lowering the unit price to $1,595.

Chandler achieved that production increase without adding substantially to its plant. Although George Rutherford, in March, 1914, built a one-story 64 foot by 40 foot storage building north of the factory, the structure's wood-frame and corrugatediron walls reflected its temporary nature. Two other temporary buildings were added in January, 1915: a 145 foot by 20 foot road testing garage and a 141 foot by 54 foot inspection building. That same month, the company added a more substantial 120 foot by 60 foot brick extension to the rear of building #1. Built as an air compressor room, that structure still contains three early Worthington and Ingersoil-Rand 300 pound compressors, and three original General Electric induction water pumps.

The next major plant expansion came in August, 1915. Chandler added a 46 foot by 42 foot boiler house and a 403 foot by 120 foot manufacturing building, both designed by Ernest McGeorge and built by The Bolton and Pratt Company. The boiler house has a steel frame, brick bearing walls, and metal industrial sash windows. It also containes some early equipment: one Connelly 130 horsepower boiler and two Connelly 300 horsepower boilers for manufacturing purposes and one KcNaull 635' horsepower boiler for heating the plant. Equipment no longer intact included a 300 ton, two-compartment coal hopper and Union feed water pumps.

The manufacturing facility, building #2, stands behind building #1 and has a similar single-story, monitor-roof, brick bearing wall structure. Building #2 differs in its use of 24 inch steel beams to support the roof, giving the clerestory space a 30 foot clearance. That addition more than doubled Chandler's production capacity. The company produced 7000 automobiles in 1915 and 15,000 the following year.

In December, 1915, The Chandler Motor Car Company increased its authorized capitalization to $10,000,000, making it the largest Cleveland automobile manufacturer and the 13th largest in the nation. At the same time, The Bolton and Pratt Company finished Ernest McGeorge's plans for building A, a 120 foot by 40 foot office wing attached to the front of building #1. The structure is two-stories high and has a reinforced concrete frame with 20 foot square bays. Its brick facing has a diaper pattern in the parapet. Rear stairs connect the building to the rest of the factory.

In September, 1916, the Chandler company announced that it would begin production of its first closed body automobiles. The Briggs Manufacturing Company, which took "care of the Chandler bodies," built them in a Detroit plant and finished and painted them in a factory adjacent to the Chandler plant.

In September, 1916, Chandler also announced that "one new four-story building, 60 by 500 foot, will be built for general assembly work, and will be ready for spring production. In addition, a special service building 60 by 160 and one story is being added." Ernest McGeorge designed both structures. The four-story structure, building #3, has two rows of mushroom columns supporting flat slab concrete floors, 20 foot square structural bays, 15 foot floor heights, two 6000 pound elevators, three stair towers, a forced hot water heating system, and a cladding of brick spandrels and industrial-sash windows. In contrast to the conservative design of Chandler's first two factories, building #3 was almost too innovative. Ernest McGeorge's design called for 8 inch, non-monolithic floor slabs. Cleveland's building commissioner, still distrustful of reinforced concrete design, made The Crowell-Lundoff-Little Construction Company prepare "a four panel test ... with a test load of two times calculated live load of 250 pounds per square foot over entire four panels. Test to be made before building is occupied." The service building stood in front of and was aligned with building Gaylord Feaga Company served as general contractor for the structure.