By Janet Dodrill
In going through the family house a few years ago, I discovered catalogs and samples from my great-grandfather’s former Cleveland-based business, the Schmitz-Horning Company. Since then, I have been researching and learning about the company, and our family’s role in the company.
The Schmitz-Horning Company, which specialized in high quality washable color wallpaper, artistic murals and scenic panoramic wall coverings, was founded around 1905 by Hugo M. Schmitz I, an artist and my great-grandfather, and William (Bill) Horning, a lithographer. Mr. Horning left the partnership around 1920. My grandfather (Hugo’s son), Warren R. Schmitz, acted as vice president of the company starting in the late 1920s. After the tragic automobile-related death of Hugo Schmitz in 1938, Warren Schmitz served as president of the company.
Through Google, Cleveland’s newspaper The Plain Dealer archives through the Cuyahoga County Public Library’s website, and family materials, I have started my journey of piecing together a historical footprint of the company and some of the people that worked at the company.
Recently, I discovered the public resources available at Cleveland Public Library in downtown Cleveland. Over several trips there, I visited the Cleveland Digital Public Library (CleDPL) (under the direction of Chatham Ewing, Digital Library Strategist), at 325 Superior Avenue, 3rd floor, the map department and the history department at 525 Superior Avenue, 6th floor, the business department on the 2nd floor, and the photograph collection on the 4th floor, and as a patron received assistance in researching and in documentation of our family’s materials.
Additionally, I was made aware of the Cleveland Public Library Digital Gallery, the library’s public online digital gallery.
A dedicated library staff assisted and enabled me to do extensive high resolution and large-scale scanning of our deteriorating Schmitz-Horning original wallpaper designs and mural lithographs, and multiple company catalogs, with an early one dating back to 1909, and most being the only known catalogs in existence. The Cleveland Digital Public Library, a new department since spring of this year, accommodated me for many hours spread over several weeks by assisting me with scans on an i2s SupraScan Quartz overhead scanner, synced to a pc, with size capabilities up to 33″ x 46″. They suggested methods regarding the preservation and storing of the materials. Other equipment available included an Epson Expression 10000 XL for photographs, and several book scanners, one high-speed ATIZ scanner, and one a versatile and user-friendly Knowledge Imaging Center (KIC) scanner. The map department had a large-scale feed-through type scanner (plus printer), a Hewlett Packer Designjet T1200 HD MFP, which scans up to 41″ wide by any length, which enabled me to scan one-of-a-kind lithographic wallpaper rolls, some over 100 inches long.
A selection of the materials scanned will be available on the Cleveland Public Library Digital Gallery, making documentation on this historic Cleveland business available to the public. Individuals researching companies in the wallpaper industry may also find it useful.
Other Schmitz-Horning blog posts by Janet Dodrill:
Articles about Cleveland Digital Public Library:
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