131 Wertz Ave NW
Canton, OH 44708

Hartung Family & House History

L. B. Hartung began his life in Canton as an immigrant machinist and ended up as a successful owner and major stockholder at Belden Brick.

He was born in Kempton, Bavaria in 1851, and immigrated to America in 1871, later becoming a naturalized citizen. He had been educated in Germany as a machinist, enabling him to find work when he first arrived in Philadelphia, where he remained for three years. He moved to Canton in 1874, finding work with the C. Aultman Co., which was the area's largest farm machinery manufacturer. He resided at a boarding house on South Walnut Street where he lived until his marriage to Wilhemina (Minnie) Balser.

Minnie had arrived in Canton at the age of two, when her  parents, Casper and Louise (Keck) Balser moved from Warren, Ohio. Minnie's parents owned Balser''s Ballroom, where Minnie was employed and where she met her future husband. After their wedding in 1884, the Hartungs moved to 22 East Tenth Street and raised four children. Their firstborn, William, died at age one. Louise, known as Lulu, was born in April 1886, followed by Paul W., known as PW, in November 1888, and Marie in October 1891. Louisa died in 1904 at the age of eighteen.

Shortly after getting married, L.B. began a business located at 30 East Seventh Street, where he sold plumbing, steam, and gas fittings.

In 1893, L.B. and Minnie traveled to the Chicago World's Fair, where they had their portraits painted. These still hang in the Hartung House parlor. It was at the Expo that the Hartungs were introduced to the Neo-Classic style of architecture and got the inspiration to build their house, completed in 1909.

The Hartungs lived in this house intil the 1950s. Upon Minnie's death, they donated it and the land to the Philomatheon Society for the Blind. The Philmatheons used it to house their blind residents for many years. Incresingly, the residents were living independently, so it became unused and costly to maintain.

The house sat vacant for a time, during which the boilers and hot water system suffered extensive damage. At auction, Marsh Belden, Jr. purchased all the interior fixtures, including the doors, fireplaces, lights, etc. on behalf of the Canton Preservation Society (CPS). Several weeks later, CPS and the Philomatheons reached an agreement to save the house from the wrecking ball with the proviso that it be moved within three months.

The Hartung House was moved to its current Wertz Ave. site in April 2002. It took approximately 60 minutes to maneuver the house around the 90 degree turn from West Tuscarawas St. onto Wertz Ave.  It was a very tight fit between Davies Drug sign and the corner apartment building. By 3:00 PM that same day, the house was sitting on its new lot, awaiting its projected  restoration.

In subsequent years, the house settled on its new basement foundation; restoration and redecoration followed. Today the Hartung House stands as a tribute to historic preservation, keeps alive the Hartung story,  and serves as a gracious home to the Canton Preservation Society.


2010 - Canton Preservation Society
Last update 02/14/2024