Biography of Thomas Bentley
Lucas County, OH Biographies

For more than fifty years members of the Bentley family have figured conspicuously in business circles of Toledo as building contractors and on all sides are seen evidences of their skill and handiwork, three fourths of the prominent buildings in the city having been erected by The A. Bentley & Sons Company, of which Thomas Bentley is the president.

Thomas Bentley was born in Toledo, November 23, 1873, and his parents were Anderton and Elizabeth (Homer) Bentley, the former a native of Bradford, England. When a young man Anderton Bentley came to the United States, first locating at Adrian, Michigan. In 1872 he arrived in Toledo, where he established his permanent residence, entering commercial life as a contractor and builder. He was one of the pioneers in this field and at first conducted his interests under the style of A. Bentley, then as A. Bentley & Son, and later as A. Bentley & Sons, while since 1907 the business has been operated under the title of The A. Bentley & Sons Company. His progressive spirit, combined with his executive agility and comprehensive knowledge of the business, placed him in a position of leadership and as the years passed the enterprise steadily developed and the firm name became well known throughout the middle west. Anderton Bentley became recognized as one of the foremost business men of Toledo and his demise on the 23d of September, 1916, deprived the city of one of its chief upbuilders and promoters. He was seventy two years of age at the time of his death, his birth having occurred on the 22d day of April, 1845, and the mother passed away in this city in 1912, also at the age of seventy two years. They were the parents of three children: 'Ethel, James and Thomas, all of whom are living in Toledo.

After completing his grammar school course Thomas Bentley spent one year as a high school student and then served a three years' apprenticeship to the plumber's trade under John A. Waite, but abandoned that line of activity in 1894 to enter the contracting business with his father, with whom he was associated until the latter's death. In 1907 the business was incorporated as The A. Bentley & Sons Company and Thomas Bentley has since served as its president, the other officers being James Bentley, vice president; L. S. Hillebrand, secretary and treasurer; and R. B. Daudt, chief engineer. Thomas Bentley also has other important business interests, being a director of the Richardson Company, investment bankers of this city; the Toledo Steel Products Company; the Second Mortgage Company of Toledo; the Commonwealth Building Company of this city, owners and builders of the Secor Hotel. His interests are varied and important and he is characterized by his ability to think in large terms.

During the more than half a century of its existence the firm of which Mr. Bentley is the head has not merely kept abreast of the times, but has been well in advance of them and these years have witnessed more progress in building construction than was shown in the entire century which preceded them. In 1883, when. A. Bentley undertook the rebuilding of the Hall block at the corner of St. Clair street and Jefferson avenue, the word "skyscraper" was unknown and buildings of steel and tile construction had not been dreamed of. The Hall building, five stories in height after it was rebuilt, was regarded as almost the last work in business blocks. A little more than twenty five years later the steel workers of this same firm could look down from the twenty first story of the Second National Bank building, then being erected, and see the Hall block as merely a low, fat roofed structure with scarcely an outer characteristic in keeping with present day ideas. The main shops of the company are located at the intersection of Thirteenth street and the Clover Leaf Railway and in the busiest season of the year it employs from four to five thousand workmen, in addition to its large force of shop employes. Here are located the machines that are used in fabricating the steel rods employed in concrete work, a process specially devised by the firm, and the special machinery utilized in making and repairing the tools and appliances needed in construction work. Jobbing and painting departments are maintained and in the engineering and estimating departments from six to eight men are constantly at work, the company being prepared to initiate work and carry it through all of its successive stages. The firm is especially skilled in concrete work, one of its most notable examples of this type of construction being the plant of the General Electric Company at Pittsfield, Massachusetts, the building being one hundred feet wide, eight hundred feet long and four stories in height. Three handsome concrete structures erected by the company in Toledo are the Secor Hotel at Superior street and Jefferson avenue, the Thompson Hudson Company's building at Summit and Adams streets, and the Bostwick-Braun building at Summit and Monroe streets, eight stories in height. The firm also erected the Second National Bank building, which has twenty one stories, is two hundred and eighty seven feet in height and is one of the most imposing edifices in Toledo. In addition to its extensive operations in Toledo, the concern has been entrusted with the erection of many notable structures in the central and eastern states, and besides its main offices in this city, it also maintains a permanent office at Jacksonville, Florida, from which it directs its work in the southern portion of the United States. In 1917 the Bentley Company was selected by the United States government to build at Chillicothe, Ohio, one of the large national cantonments at that time so urgently needed to house the troops who had been drafted f or service in the World war. Thomas Bentley devotes his entire time to work within the city, while James Bentley is in charge of all outside operations. As the executive head of the business Mr. Bentley displays the same enterprising spirit and administrative powers which characterized its founder, greatly enlarging the scope of its operations, and the business is not only a source of individual profit, but has also been of incalculable value to the city, contributing in a notable degree to its improvement and upbuilding.

At Defiance, Ohio, on the 30th of November. 1898, Mr. Bentley was married to Miss Katherine Lewis. a daughter of E. N. and Abigail Lewis of that city, and two sons have been born of this union: Anderton Lewis, who was born December 10, 1900, and acquired his education in a private school and in Yale University; and James Edmond, who was born March 18, 1906, and is now attending a private school at Pottstown. Pennsylvania.'

When national issues are at stake Mr. Bentley gives his political support to the republican party, but at local elections he votes for the candidate whom he deems best qualified for office without regard to party ties. He is a director of the Associated General Contractors of America and a trustee of the Toledo Chamber of Commerce. He is an Elk and a thirty second degree Mason, and is also connected with the Toledo Club, the Inverness Club and the Toledo Country Club. No detail of his business is too unimportant to receive his attention, and he is a dynamic force in the field in which his activities are centered.

Toledo and Lucas County, Ohio
BY: John M. Killits, A.M., LL.D.
S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
Chicago and Toledo

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