Heritage Insights: Kittinger Co.

by / Dec. 9, 2014 10pm EST

“Our business is not primarily to turn furniture into money, but to produce something really worthwhile and to serve well.” – Irvine J. Kittinger

  • The Kittinger Co., one of America’s premier manufacturers of handcrafted furniture with local roots dating to 1866, built its factory at 1893 Elmwood Avenue in 1917.
  • At this location, Kittinger made the Oval Office fireside chairs and Cabinet Room conference table for the White House in 1971.
  • In 1995, the plant was shuttered following the discovery of a $31 million check-kiting scam orchestrated by Kittinger president Michael Carlow.
  • In 2000, the 193,000 square foot daylight factory, of a type that is often targeted for mixed-use restoration today, was razed by Benderson Development. Defending his decision allowing the demolition to proceed, Joseph Ryan of the Office of Strategic Planning said, “Whether or not it was torn down properly, if the end result is economic vitality and they pay taxes and generate jobs, it’s very hard for me to be against them because that’s what we need.”
  • Today, the Kittinger site has been converted to a suburban retail strip, home to Citizens Bank and L.A. Fitness.
  • The Kittinger company, reestablished in 1997 by former employee Raymond Bialkowski, continues making locally handcrafted furniture at a new location on Transit Road.