Fred Seagrave’s first ladders were made in his Michigan shed. But it was a buggy manufacturing town, Columbus, Ohio, where Fred found an interest in his product. In 1892, he made the move, partnering with Julius Stone, banker and owner of the Ohio Buggy Company. They formed The Seagrave Company and moved to 2000 South High Street, calling it home for 63 years. They survived the depression and ended 1949 with equipment backorders totaling over two million dollars. Profits drove diversification, new partners, and products. Eventually, the fire apparatus side of the business needed a capital outlay for a new plant and tooling. It was profitable, but not as much as other divisions. In 1963, the fire engine operation in Columbus was sold to The FWD Corporation. And in ‘65, FWD moved the operation to its headquarters in Clintonville, Wisconsin.
In 2017, a longtime—five generations strong—Columbus furniture company, Fortner Upholstering, consolidated from three manufacturing facilities to one in the historic array of buildings at 2000-2050 S. High St. The legacy of craftsmanship within these walls making it the perfect home for them. After working to make the space safe and dry, in 2018, they began to open up other areas of the campus for lease.
Now, over 20 other businesses are within the main campus. Since opening the building up and naming it The Fort, ownership has expanded their footprint to include several neighboring properties, covering 50 acres of land. Opportunities abound for these beautiful buildings and for the long, neglected Steelton Village in which they sit. What comes next will surely be an exciting development on the South Side.
This tour will be guided by the current owners of the campus and Fortner Upholstering. The tour will end with a happy hour hosted by Mary Dietsch Architecture & Design.
Presented by the Committee on Design.
April 20, 2023
Earn 1.0 LU|HSW
AIA Members, Allied Members, AIA Columbus Sponsors: $10
Associate Members: $5