Business History

Pitzman’s surveying was founded in 1859 by Julius Pitzman and today operates as one of the oldest surveying firms west of the Mississippi River. Our meticulously maintained surveying and engineering records help us provide our clients with detailed information about their property and development plans. For over 150 years, Pitzman’s Company has been instrumental in the planning and development of the City of St. Louis and surrounding region.

General History

Julius Pitzman was born in Halberstadt, Prussia (now eastern Germany) in 1837. He came to the United States in 1854 at the age of 17 with his mother and two sisters and initially lived in Milwaukee where he worked as a clerk in the Milwaukee Post Office. During this time, his brother-in-law, Charles E. Solomon, who also immigrated to the U.S. from Prussia, ended up in St. Louis and soon after, Pitzman followed and was among 7000 German immigrants that settled in St. Louis during the mid 19th century. Shortly after arrival, Pitzman began working as a surveyor for Solomon and in 1859, he took over his brother-in-law’s business, which marked the establishment of Pitzman’s Co. of Surveyors and Engineers. The first year of business showed significant promise as it managed to generate a significant profit despite Pitzman still being relatively novice.

Not long after the establishment of his company, Julius Pitzman volunteered his services to the U.S. military. During this time, he crafted a military map of St. Louis and later, he was appointed first lieutenant of the Topographical Engineers; these opportunities allowed him to heighten the skills that contributed to his successful career later in life. While conducting a survey of the Vicksburg siege line, Pitzman sustained a career ending injury and was forced to retire with the rank of Major. Pitzman returned to St. Louis and was immediately given the position of county surveyor, allegedly while he was still in crutches recovering from his injuries.

Throughout his extensive career as a surveyor and city planner, which spanned nearly six decades, Pitzman was foundational in the development of many St. Louis landmarks, most notably Forest Park. The growing popularity of St. Louis, fueled partially by the centrality of the city (in comparison to the greater U.S.), made it an attractive spot for companies to move their operations to. More jobs and more housing meant that urban living was more accessible than ever before, and thus, the city began to grow. By the end of the 19th century, the city was booming and the infrastructure was struggling to keep up. Once quiet neighborhoods were now becoming overpopulated and longtime residents began to seek out the serenity that they had become accustomed to. Julius Pitzman understood these concerns and responded to them by introducing private neighborhoods. Often gated or partially walled off, these revolutionary neighborhoods offered a feeling of seclusion and safety while still being located within the urban center. During this time, zoning laws in cities were informal at best, but often times were nonexistent which meant that large commercial establishments were being built in between houses. In contrast, private neighborhoods had common ground owned by the residents, rather than the city, which allowed these areas to stay strictly residential, and quiet. Most notable of these private neighborhoods are Claverach Park in Clayton, Portland Place, Compton Heights, Parkview, and Flora Boulevard. Pitzman essentially recognized the dynamics of urban living and, in many ways, transformed the City of St. Louis to meet the demands of a growing population and accommodate the shift towards cars as the newly popularized mode of transportation.

Julius Pitzman approached urban development differently than many others because he saw value in the natural environment. Rather than contribute to the rigid infrastructure that characterized many urban landscapes, he sought to integrate nonconventional features that incorporated the area’s natural topography into his design visions, including curved roads and rolling hills. Pitzman understood that the key to making neighborhoods desirable is acknowledging their original landscapes and using their natural features as an advantage.

In 1923, Julius Pitzman died at the age of 87 and Pitzman’s Co. was taken over by his son, Frederick Pitzman. However, even a century later, the revolutionary work of Pitzman is still evident throughout the city.

Development of Forest Park

In 1872, the Missouri General Assembly authorized the city to purchase a 1,000 acre tract of land to build a public park, something the city was lacking at the time. However, the decision to create a public park, especially one that spanned over 1,000 acres, was fiercely rejected by voters. Many St. Louis residents were adamant that they did not want to pay the taxes associated with the newly proposed site, regardless of the benefits it offered, and they challenged this decision in court. Surprisingly enough, the taxpayers won and the authorization was overturned in 1873. However, the following year, another developer, Andrew McKinley, drafted a new proposal that envisioned a similar park to the one proposed years earlier and, after persevering through legal opposition, the park was approved. In fact, after this decision was approved, Missouri legislature passed an ordinance to develop three parks in St. Louis County. The same year, the county hired Julius Pitzman to survey a newly acquired 1,300-acre undeveloped tract that was situated to the west of the city. Pitzman worked alongside lead designer Maximilian G. Kern to transform this land into what is now regarded as one of the largest, and arguably best, urban greenspaces in the United States: Forest Park. In 1876, the city and county governments were separated, and the City of St. Louis hired Julius Pitzman as the lead city surveyor and engineer. Forest Park was chosen as the site for the 1904 World’s Fair, which further fueled its popularity and transformed it into the cultural cornerstone that it is today.

Despite his involvement in the development of private neighborhoods, Forest Park serves as a testament of the value that Julius Pitzman saw in accessible, well maintained public spaces. And furthermore, it exemplifies his devotion to preserving natural landscapes.

Other Notable Work

MacArthur Park (Little Rock, Arkansas)
While Forest Park is undoubtably Pitzman’s most famous project, it wasn’t his only public project, nor was it the only park he was involved in. MacArthur Park, originally Arsenal Park and later known as City Park, is the oldest municipal park in Little Rock, Arkansas and was one of the first major projects Julius Pitzman worked on as he began his civilian career after serving the military. MacArthur Park is situated on 36 acres that was previously used as a military property by the U.S. Department of War. Pitzman integrated features such as a 1.7-acre man-made lake, a bandstand, and a tower building that now houses the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History.

Granite City, Illinois
In addition to MacArthur Park, Pitzman played an integral role in the creation of Granite City, Illinois. In 1892, the Niedringhaus Brothers bought 3,500 acres of land to build a city centered around the production of their new, revolutionary product: graniteware. Pitzman, who at the time was the official engineer for the City of St. Louis, was hired as the lead planner for ‘Granite City’. In 1896, Granite City became officially recognized as a municipality and over the past 120 years, it has become an industrial hotspot, housing manufacturing operations for big names such as Kraft Foods, Capri-Sun, and U.S. Steel.

Centennial Park (Nashville, Tennessee)
Centennial Park, formerly West Side Park, is a 132-acre urban park that sits just West of downtown Nashville. Similar to the history of MacArthur Park, the land that Centennial Park encompasses was previously state occupied land that was used during the Civil War. In 1890, the land was transformed into a racetrack and in 1897, the land was redeveloped into the site of the Tennessee Centennial and International Exposition, which was an exposition that ran from May through October of the same year. Julius Pitzman proposed and designed the racetrack that served as a signature feature of this land throughout the last decade of the 19th century.

Grants Farm (St. Louis County)
With its rich history and stunning European architecture, Grants Farm remains one of the coolest sites in St. Louis County. The land was originally owned and occupied by Ulysses S. Grant (hence the name) who inherited it from his father-in-law, Colonel Frederic Dent. During the end of the 19th century, the land was bought, sold, and divided several times. In 1903, the southern portion of the property, which spanned 293 acres, was purchased by August A. Busch, son of Anheuser Busch founder Adolphus, who envisioned a sprawling estate equipped with a German style barn (which now serves as one of the most iconic features of the farm) and the “Big House” mansion that overlooks the land. Busch hired Julius Pitzman to survey his new property and carry out his vision.

Pitzmans Co. Leadership: 1923 – 2020

Frederick Pitzman (1923 – 1951)
Following the death of Julius Pitzman in 1923, Pitzmans Co. was taken over by Julius’s son, Frederick Pitzman. He graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering from Washington University in St. Louis where he played football and served as a Student Body Representative. Frederick continued his father’s legacy in developing the greater St. Louis area. His efforts spanned multiple sectors. Including private residences, industrial projects, and public parks and in 1927, Frederick Pitzman was appointed City Surveyor for the City of St. Louis.

One of his most interesting projects during his career was the Lake Forest Neighborhood, which is situated at the southwest corner at the intersection of Clayton Road and Hanley Road in Richmond Heights. Echoing his fathers style, (Frederick) Pitzman integrated notable features such as a single, gated entry, large homesites, and lots of greenery, including large trees and shrubbery that lined the neighborhoods boundaries, which added to the privacy of the neighborhood and further emphasized nature and serenity, two key features that Julius Pitzman sought to prioritize in suburban landscapes.

In 1951, Frederick Pitzman passed away at the age of 61 and left his fortune to the Frederick Pitzman Trust, which continues to provide funding for scholarships and grants for educational and nonprofit institutions throughout the Midwest.

A. Fred Helmkampf (1951 – 1962)
In 1948, Fred Helmkampf, took over Pitzman’s role as City Surveyor and in 1951, after the death of Frederick Pitzman, he took on Pitzman’s role as president of the company. Helmkampf passed away in 1962 at the age of 54.

Jesse F. Colvin (1962 – 1969)
Jesse F. Colvin was born in 1924 in Illinois. He served as a technical sergeant (TSgt) in the U.S. Army during WWII. He took over Pitzman’s Co. in 1962 and was president until 1969, In 1997, Colvin passed away at the age of 72.

Clem R. Ulrich (1969 – 1972)
Clem R. Ulrich was born May 21st, 1924 in Missouri. Similar to the presidents that proceeded him, Julius Pitzman and Jesse F. Colvin, Ulrich had a dedicated military career, serving as a Private First Class (PFC) in the U.S. Army during WWII. He was the president of the Missouri Society of Professional Land Surveyors (MSPS) in 1967, and was the president of Pitzman’s from 1969 until 1972. In 2006, he passed away at the age of 82. Ulrich is buried at Jefferson Barracks Cemetary in St. Louis, Missouri.

Roy E. Leimberg (1972 – 2005)
Roy E. Leimberg joined Pitzmans Co. in 1955 at the young age of 17. His career with Pitzman’s spanned 52 years and three presidents, initially serving under Helmkampf and later, Colvin and Ulrich. In 1972, he took on the role of president of the company and for over three decades, Leimberg upheld the Pitzman reputation of providing exceptional land surveying services to the greater St. Louis area.

During his tenure as president, Leimberg served as president of the Missouri Society of Professional Land Surveyors (MSPS) in 1982. Like many of the president that served before him, Leimberg was German and was very proud of his heritage. Leimberg passed away in 2016 however, even in his absence, his vast knowledge of land surveying and the values he integrated into Pitzmans Co. are still continuously echoed.

BillBerthold2webWilliam K. Berthold (2005 – 2013)
In 2005, Pitzman’s was bought by William K. Berthold, president of Frontenac Engineering, who had long seen the value in this company and the unique, and vast, history that it encompassed.

A native of St. Louis, Bill Berthold grew up in Kirkwood, Missouri. He graduated from the University of Missouri with degrees in Civil Engineering and Geology in 1984. The combination of geology and engineering allowed him to develop a keen interest in the relationship between the built environment and natural features of landscapes, similar to what Julius Pitzman had explored when designing his private, serene suburbs.

Early in his career, Berthold became enamored by the work of Julius Pitzman and the unique history of the company. For several years, he tossed around the idea of becoming involved with Pitzman’s Co and finally one day, he decided to reach out to Roy to extend his interest in purchasing the company if, or when, it became available to buy. To Bill’s surprise, the company had just been listed for sale in the Land Surveyors Journal and a few hours later, he and Roy met to discuss the future of Pitzman’s. By November 2005, Pitzman’s was officially sold and in 2006, it became established in the office it currently operates out of which is located on Sutton Blvd in Maplewood, Missouri.

T. Christopher Peoples (2013 – 2020)
During his tenure as Pitzman’s president, Roy E. Leimberg met T. Christopher Peoples and was initially impressed by Peoples’ German fluency, which he learned after taking German classes in high school. Although Peoples didn’t have a background in surveying, Leimberg appreciated his cadence and decided to hire him.

For almost a decade, Chris Peoples developed his skills and knowledge; working at Pitzman’s during the day and attending classes at University of Missouri-St. Louis in the evenings. In 2008, he graduated from UMSL with a degree in Civil Engineering and by 2013, his hard work propelled him to leadership, and he became president of the company.

Pitzman's Today

After nearly a decade of leadership, Chris Peoples stepped down as president of Pitzman’s in 2020 and sold his majority stake in the company to former president, Bill Berthold.

In the years following Berthold’s initial ownership (in 2005), Frontenac Engineering and Pitzman’s Co. have developed a close, reciprocal relationship which has allowed both companies to fully serve the greater St. Louis region and its residents.

Pitzman’s Co. remains deeply rooted in its history and continues to extend its services to many of the areas that Julius Pitzman was fundamental in developing, including Forest Park, Claverach Park, Portland Place, and Compton Heights.



William K. Berthold

Principal Land Surveyor

Kevin Blestsm

A. Kevin Blest

Office Manager
Sr. CADD Specialist

Scott Pettsm

Scott T. Pett

Survey Operations Manager

Ben Woerthsm

Ben Woerth

Deputy Surveyor

Patrick Duke

Deputy Surveyor

Pitzman’s Legacy: American Urban and Suburban Landscapes

If you come across a suburb with features such as community maintained parks or communal green spaces, man made ponds, and naturally curving roads, it’s likely that these features that make these neighborhoods so desirable are there because of Julius Pitzman. In fact, it’s arguable that the quiet serenity that characterizes many suburban landscapes wouldn’t have existed, at least in the same capacity, without Pitzman. Julius Pitzman pioneered suburban living and, in turn, revolutionized many American landscapes in St. Louis and beyond.