Pipeline to History

A. Hattersley & Sons, which is still in business today, installed plumbing, heating and the gas/electric lighting at the courthouse.

of The News-Sentinel

Local business
News-Sentinel photo by Brian Tombaugh

Local business
A. Hattersley & Sons was owned by the second generation of family members -- from left, Willis H. Hattersley, Alfred I. Hattersley and Byron E. Hattersley -- when they installed the plumbing, heating and lighting systems for the Allen County Courthouse. Here, the Hattersleys stand in front of the first store at 48 E. Main St. around 1905.
By the time A. Hattersley & Sons went to work on the Allen County Courthouse, the company already had been in business nearly 50 years.

Today, the 146-year-old company often finds itself putting in the second or even third generation of plumbing and heating systems in buildings where it was the original contractor.

Hattersley installed plumbing, heating and the gas/electric lighting at the courthouse, for a total of $71,966.

By then the company was owned by the second generation of the Hattersley family, with offices just a few blocks east of the courthouse, on Main Street near Clinton Street. The storefront displayed gas lamps for home or office, while a story-high gas pipe, with turnoff valve, served as decoration beside the front door.

Gas still was a popular fuel for lighting, as well as heating, at the turn of the 20th century. Locally, coal gas was used.

Indoor plumbing also was becoming more common, another source of business.

Hattersley not only installed mechanical systems, the company made its own valves, said Jim Gill, vice president of the company. Brass valves were scarce and Hattersley bought blanks from an Indianapolis foundry then brought them to its machine shop in Fort Wayne to make valves to its specifications.

During the time of the courthouse construction, the three sons of founder Alfred Hattersley ran the company -- Alfred I., Byron and Willis. The company employed about 30 in the early 1900s. Today, it employs about 100.

As downtown Fort Wayne grew in the early 20th century, Hattersley employees were installing piping, plumbing and wiring in buildings large and small.

When the Calhoun Street mall was built 20 years ago, Hattersley workers found 7-inch pipe the company had originally installed. Some was found in inventory to replace sections needing repair, Gill said.

When the Embassy Theatre was renovated a few years ago, Hattersley workers replaced the plumbing their predecessors had first installed when the theater was built in 1928.

But that's nothing new. Displayed in the firm's lobby is a copy of a receipt found when the Allen County Orphan's Home was demolished in 1922, a receipt from Hattersley work done in the 1880s.

In good company

Some familiar businesses were already established in Allen County when the courthouse was dedicated in 1902. The following are among those that have been in continuous operation for 100 or more years.

* 1833 -- The News-Sentinel

* 1856 -- A. Hattersley & Sons

* 1859 -- Lindenwood Cemetery

* 1863 -- Journal Gazette Co.

* 1869 -- St. Joseph Hospital

* 1873 -- Wolf Corp.

* 1873 -- Young's Greenhouse & Flowers

* 1874 -- Riegel's Pipe & Tobacco Shop

* 1876 -- Barrett & McNagny (Aldrich & Barrett)

* 1876 -- Klaehn, Fahl & Melton Funeral Home

* 1878 -- Parkview Hospital (Fort Wayne City Hospital)

* 1880 -- Birkmeier & Son Monument

* 1881 -- General Electric Motors (Jenney Electric)

* 1882 -- Fisher Brothers Paper

* 1883 -- Stellhorn Hardware Inc.

* 1886 -- Commonwealth/Dreibelbiss (Dreibelbiss Abstract Title Co.)

* 1887 -- Lupke-Rice Associates (Lupke Agency)

* 1889 -- E. Harper & Son Funeral Homes Inc.

* 1890 -- Schenkel & Sons Inc.

* 1891 -- F.W. Toenges & Sons

* 1892 -- Irmscher Inc.

* 1898 -- Pape Paints & Wallpaper Co.
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