Ohio History Journal

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The Architectural Legacy of

Guy Tilden of Canton





For forty years, from the mid-1880's to the mid-1920's, Guy Tilden was "the leading

architect of Canton," Ohio, according to Edward T. Heald, Stark County's ency-

clopedic historian.1 Of Tilden's enormous output only a remnant exists, but this

sample serves to indicate both the variety and the quality of building done in a

growing Ohio industrial town during those years. Buildings reveal the needs, ambi-

tions, tastes, and whims of clients, and the remaining works of an architect like Til-

den constitute a legacy from which the sensitive observer can read something of the

spirit of an age and its people.

During Tilden's professional life, the city of Canton increased sevenfold in popu-

lation, from 12,258 in 1880 to 87,091 in 1920.2 During these years Canton gained

fame as an industrial and steel town. One of the most important factors in this

growth was the establishment of the Dueber-Hampden Watch Company, formed by

the merger of the Hampden Watch Works of Springfield, Massachusetts, and the

Dueber Watch Case Works of Newport, Kentucky. These concerns moved to Can-

ton in 1886 because of the efforts of civic-minded citizens and the offer of land and

money.3 According to the Ohio Guide, "This plant attracted to Canton a large num-

ber of skilled German and Swiss artisans, to whom is due much of the neighborli-

ness and order of the present steel city."4

In 1898 Canton was chosen by Henry H. Timken as the location for his roller

bearing production. The enormous expansion of this industry eventually made it

Canton's largest factory. Industrialists like the Duebers, the Timkens, Frank Case,

manufacturer of dental equipment, William Sherlock, iron manufacturer, and

Harry Ink, creator of Tonsiline, were partly responsible for the pattern of growth of

the city, and inevitably were among its most important building clients. This was

also the period of the rising fame of William McKinley, his service as congressman

and governor of Ohio, his presidency and assassination in 1901. His memorial

tomb in Canton, completed in 1907, cannot be pointed to as one of Guy Tilden's

works, although Tilden did submit a competitive design for the project.5 The turn-




1. Edward T. Heald, The Stark County Story (Canton, 1950), IV, Part III, 759.

2. Ohio Almanac 1971 (Lorain, 0., 1970), 460.

3. Heald, Stark County, II, 171-172.

4. The Ohio Guide (New York, 1940), 183.


Mr. Johannesen is Preservationist at the Western Reserve Historical Society.