The Tuttles and Whittemores: A partnership for the ages…
Our new museum home would not be possible without the generosity of the Tuttles, and Naugatuck would surely not be the same town without them. Born in nearby Prospect, Bronson Beecher Tuttle (1835–1903) rose from humble origins to become one of the country’s most successful manufacturers of malleable iron. In 1858 Tuttle co-founded with John Howard Whittemore (1837–1910) the Tuttle & Whittemore Co., later the Eastern Malleable Iron Co. Their business for making flexible iron castings for farm tools, munitions casings, wagon and railroad hardware, faucets and many other products flourished in a new age of mass production. By the late 1880s the partners’ initial capital investment had grown exponentially, earning both men fortunes.
In 1859 Bronson wed Mary Ann Wilcox (1835–1928), a schoolteacher from Litchfield County. Their only child, Howard Beecher Tuttle (1863–1933) married Jeannette Seymour (1862–1955) in 1888 and joined the family business. Their newfound wealth enabled the Tuttles and Whittemores to travel the world, enter new social circles and play leading roles in public philanthropy. J.H. Whittemore is particularly well remembered for his local building campaign, focused mainly on library and school projects, which brought the noted architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White to town for no fewer than eleven commissions.
Longtime Church Street neighbors, the Tuttles and Whittemores became extremely close, their friendships extending through multiple generations. The families’ history of charitable giving continues to shape community life, and their legacy of business ingenuity lives on in what is now the Eastern Company, still based in Naugatuck.