The year was 1916; invasions were going on everywhere – Pancho Villa invaded the U.S., the U.S. invaded Cuba, and woven into the fabric of that year, Mutual signed a man names Charlie Chaplin to a film contract. It was that same year that Arthur DeVoss and Charles Donaldson formed DeVoss and Donaldson Architects in Portsmouth. One hundred years later, they are still going strong.
Fast forward to 2016 and as of 2008, they are known as Tanner, Stone, Holsinger and Donges, or to simplify matters – TSHD. There are four mainstays at that company – Mark Tanner, David Stone, Mark Holsinger and Kirk Donges. But they will tell you it is their employees.
The heritage of a 100 year old business is not lost on any of the partners. Mark Holsinger and David Stone have been at the company – “pushing on 40 years now.”
“For me, it’s about a continuation of a long proud heritage,” Stone said. “Being local guys, we feel like this is our home. It is our home. We want to leave, not only a progression of the firm itself, but also our community for our kids and grandkids, hopefully a little bit better than what we got. Not that it was bad – but even better. That’s always the hope for each generation. We’ve (Stone and Holsinger) seen the highs and the lows and know what it takes to make it 40 years and to think that those guys did it for even longer, we take a lot of pride in that.”
Stone said it is the goal of the partners to always provide a safe pleasant place for their employees to work and, in turn, produce good architecture for the community and an atmosphere in which all of their employees can earn a good living.
Their name is on so many creations, one would be hard pressed to even begin to name them. Southern Ohio Medical Center, Shawnee State University, most of the local schools, commercial buildings of all types, public institutions, jails, office buildings and a lot more.
“Every time I go by a building that I had a hand in, I look at it,” Holsinger said. “If I get a chance I go in it and experience it first hand. I’ve almost lost track. David has done the same thing. We have worked on so many different buildings over the years, whether its renovations or new buildings, there are so many out there, you tend to forget. It is kind of interesting to run across a new project that the current owner now wants to tear down a building that we designed.”
Stone said there are facilities his company has designed multiple additions to. Each addition has brought a new look and a new functionality and even a new use, but through it all, the original building has endured.
Over the 100 year period, many companies have come and gone in the area, and the fact that TSHD has stood the test of time, comes as no surprised to any of the partners.
“We believe that we offer a good quality product,” Stone said. “We take a lot of pride in what we do. We have contractors tell us that our drawings are probably better than they see a lot of other architects put out. They know that we are going to tell them the truth. We’re trustworthy. We think those are the kinds of values that endure a business. We talk all the time about how important it is to have good relationships with our clients.”
Stone said, when he goes to see a client, sometimes they won’t even talk about the project because he feels it is more important to continue to build in the relationship
“They know that we’re going to do what we say we’re going to do and I know that they are going to do what they say they’re going to do,” Stone said. “That’s what I think made it last so long. That kind of commitment.”
As the name evolves from its first name in 1916 to six names later to where it is today, it is obvious to even the most casual observer that there is a thread that runs through the 100 years of service to the community. They have built a reputation of reliability from those original hand drawn plans on a linen surface to today’s computer-driven productions, and while that kind of history doesn’t come easy, it comes because of the dedication of people who want to ingrain themselves in the community and leave it a little better than they found it.
“There’s a hardiness to that that we really feel proud to be able to continue,” Stone said. “We want it to be able to continue beyond us, when Kirk and whoever else would come along to be able to continue, not only for their benefit and the community’s benefit, but we like to be able to think that we left them something and we can go off and do other things.”
The company will celebrate their 100th birthday on August 27 at their office located at 1010 Coles Boulevard in Portsmouth. They can be reached at 740-354-6621.
Progression of company names:
- 1916 – DeVoss and Donaldson
- 1952 – Donaldson, Donaldson and Wittenmeyer
- 1952 – Earl C. Hayes and Associates also works with them on projects
- 1972 – Hayes, Donaldson and Wittenmeyer (James Donaldson retires)
- 1980 – Hayes, Wittenmeyer and Tanner (James Wittenmeyer retires in 1984)
- 1989 – Hayes, Tanner and Stone
- 1992 – Tanner, Stone and Company (Earl Hayes retires in 1992)
- 2008 – Tanner, Stone, Holsinger and Dongess (Mark Tanner retires in 2014)
Pictured left to right – Cecil DeVoss, Arthur DeVoss, Sr., Charles Morgan Donaldson at the first office of DeVoss and Donaldson in 1916
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.
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