Former Schmitz-Horning Company Building Destroyed by Fire

January 24, 2017

By Janet Dodrill

schmitz-horning-company-cleveland-ohio-plant-about-1925

The Schmitz-Horning Company building, Cleveland, Ohio, about 1925. (Schmitz family archives)

In April 2011 when I began my research into family-owned Schmitz-Horning Company (Cleveland, Ohio, 1905-1960), a prominent high-end mural and wall covering manufacturer and printer (co-founded and run by my great-grandfather and later by my grandfather), two things happened. First, I discovered a black and white photograph of the building from around 1925 in our family documents. Second, after Googling the building’s address of 777 E. 82nd Street in Cleveland, search results showed it was being occupied by an industrial chemical company, and the building looked well maintained from the photo on Google street view.

777 E. 82nd Street, Cleveland, Ohio Photo: Google, 2007

777 E. 82nd Street, Cleveland, Ohio
Photo: Google, 2007

Excited about the find, it was my intention to go see the building. Several months rolled by and I Googled the business address again and many recent articles dated June 27, 2011 came up stating that an accidental fire had destroyed the building, most likely started by roofers, drawing 60 firefighters from 15 departments — a triple three alarm fire! Fortunately, no one was injured.

777 E. 82nd Street, Cleveland, Ohio Photo: Cleveland.com, June 27, 2011

Fire at 777 E. 82nd Street, Cleveland, Ohio
Photo: Cleveland.com, June 27, 2011

Initially, the owner announced plans to rebuild on the same site but renovated offices were built directly across the street in other facilities owned by the company. The site where the building once stood is today a lot for parking and storage of machinery and equipment.

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Hugo Max Schmitz and Warren Reynolds Schmitz, presidents of Schmitz-Horning Co.

October 29, 2016

By Janet Dodrill

Hugo Max Schmitz holds his young son Warren Reynolds Schmitz, in 1905.

Hugo Max Schmitz holds his young son Warren Reynolds Schmitz, in 1905.

Schmitz-Horning Co., and mural and wall covering manufacturing and printing company, was founded around 1905 (or possibly earlier) in Cleveland, Ohio by Hugo Max Schmitz and William Horning (“Will” or “Bill”). They were artists and lithographers.

Hugo was born in Wisconsin and traveled to Cleveland in the late 1890s, joining the Art Club, and befriending (and even traveling with) several established area artists. He was a talented artist, and wanted to offer high quality art that was affordable for people’s homes, thus the idea of reproducible art murals and papers.

Hugo was acting president, and Mr. Horning sold his interest in the company around 1920.

Around 1926, Hugo’s son, Warren Reynolds Schmitz, came to work at the company as Vice President and worked in sales after graduating from Miami University of Ohio (where he excelled in Debate Club).

hugo max schmitz

Hugo Max Schmitz of Schmitz-Horning Company, Cleveland, Ohio.

Hugo was my great-grandfather and Warren was my grandfather.

The company had longevity in its employees, and many had multiple family members who worked there. They printed on two of the largest chromolithographic custom presses in the world (a third one being in London), and oversized zinc plates had to be shipped from Germany. The color lithographs exceeded a 40″ x 80″ sheet size and were printed in oil-based inks on high quality paper and were fully washable.

It was most likely one of the top ten wall covering manufacturers in the country of its time, and Hugo Schmitz was considered and authority on the Frieze, a continuous pictorial wall mural, and published articles in Decorator and Architectural trade journals.

In 1938, Warren Schmitz became president of Schmitz-Horning, after a tragic automobile accident and death of Hugo, 72. Also killed was family friend Margaret A. Hale, 66, wife of the late George W. Hale, builder of Cleveland’s Alcazar Hotel. Hugo’s wife, Pauline “Queen” Reynolds Schmitz was injured but survived.

warren-reynolds-schmitz-schmitz-horning-company-cleveland-ohio

After the death of Hugo Max Schmitz, Schmitz-Horning Co. was run by his son, Warren Reynolds Schmitz.

With Warren at the helm, he produced new patterns and product lines including scenic panoramics, working with several notable area artists, and developed sales and marketing materials including catalogs and small-scale wall scenics view books.

Warren Schmitz (“Bud”), ran the company until around 1960, and Schmitz-Horning Company closed. A bookkeeping document shows that a sale of S-H equipment to another local wallpaper firm occurred around 1964. A newspaper ad for the wall coverings sold through The May Company can be seen in The Plain Dealer in the 1964. Warren died at the age of 65 in 1970.

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Schmitz-Horning Co. Catalogs, Lithos Digitized at Cleveland Public Library and CleDPL

August 15, 2015

By Janet Dodrill

CleDPL library assistant Ray Rozman scans an original Schmitz-Horning Co. wall mural design.

CleDPL library assistant Ray Rozman scans an original Schmitz-Horning Co. wall mural design.

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.

CPL Map/GIS librarian Tom Edwards scans a Schmitz-Horning scenic wallpaper design.

CPL Map/GIS librarian Tom Edwards scans a Schmitz-Horning scenic wallpaper design.

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.

Panoramic Friezes catalog, 1909-1910, the Schmitz-Horning Company, Cleveland, Ohio.

Panoramic Friezes catalog, 1909-1910, the Schmitz-Horning Company, Cleveland, Ohio.

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:

Schmitz-Horning Co. Artists Created Impressive Lithographic Murals and Scenic Wallpaper

Google Cultural Institute

Schmitz-Horning Co. Ming Floral Scenic Wallpaper Pattern

Schmitz-Horning Company Created Wallpaper Murals and Art

Articles about Cleveland Digital Public Library:

Cleveland Digital Public Library Will Offer High-Tech Scanning For The Masses

Ohio: Grand Opening of Cleveland Digital Public Library (ClevDPL) Taking Place Today

Ohio Public Libraries Receive Grant Funding To Create Network Of Coordinated Digitization Hubs

Curtis Flowers scans a Schmitz-Horning Co. lithograph on CleDPL's large overhead scanner.

Curtis Flowers scans a Schmitz-Horning Co. lithograph on CleDPL’s large overhead scanner.

The Cleveland Digital Public Library (CleDPL) department of Cleveland Public Library

The Cleveland Digital Public Library (CleDPL) department of Cleveland Public Library.

Book Scanner at Cleveland Digital Public Library

Book Scanner at Cleveland Digital Public Library.

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Schmitz-Horning Co. Ming Floral Scenic Wallpaper Pattern

January 11, 2014

By Janet Dodrill

Schmitz-Horning Co. Ming Floral Scenic Wallpaper Artist's Rendering.

Schmitz-Horning Co. “Ming Floral” Scenic Wallpaper (Artist’s Rendering).

Recently, I was contacted by someone online who asked if I knew anything about the Schmitz-Horning Company’s “Ming Floral” wallpaper pattern. They stated that their grandfather was a painter/wallpaperer in the 1930s through ’60s, and that he had saved three panels of the wallpaper.

I know the pattern, a lovely one — we had it in a bedroom at our family home where I grew up in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. The house originally belonged to my grandfather, Warren R. Schmitz, who ran the company after my great-grandfather’s (Hugo M. Schmitz) death in 1938.

Schmitz-Horning Co. "Ming Floral" Scenic Wallpaper Panels.

Schmitz-Horning Co. “Ming Floral” Scenic Wallpaper Panels.

The Cleveland-based company employed and contracted with many Cleveland area artists, and I believe that artists/illustrators were used from England and that the paper was distributed there as well. The papers were printed using presses capable of oversized printing, the only of their kind in the country at the time. High quality oil-based inks were used on sturdy paper, that enabled the papers to be washed and to retain colors. The company did art murals/wall scenes or friezes that were tastefully designed but affordable, and later scenics and continuous panoramics that surrounded a room were available for homes and public buildings.

A patent was filed in 1906 for the printed frieze for walls by Hugo M. Schmitz, his business partner William Horning, and his top salesman, Warren R. Cox. An article he wrote was published in an architectural decorating magazine at the turn of the century about the friezes. He was an artist himself and designed some of the paper.

On the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum web site, scenic panel, “Ming Floral,” is a 1939 chromolithograph, but they are in the process of digitizing images of S-H wallpaper (gifts of the Wallpaper Council, Inc.).

According to a 1950 S-H Scenic Paper price list, Ming Floral was available in white, pale yellow, gray, and turquoise. A full set of four panels was $30.00, and price per section was $8.50. In another, perhaps earlier catalog, it was priced $7.50. Each panel was 40″ x 80″ in size. The panels contained imagery of plants, flowers, birds, bamboo trees, and turf. It was from an original hand-painted Chinese design.

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Google Alert: Schmitz-Horning Company

August 29, 2011

By Janet Dodrill

See some of the gorgeous wall mural art designs from my great-grandfather’s (Hugo Max Schmitz) wallpaper and art mural manufacturing company www.archive.org/details/San-kro-muraWallDecorations online at Internet Archive.

See my April 2011 post.


Schmitz-Horning Company Created Wallpaper Murals and Art

April 11, 2011

By Janet Dodrill

schmitz-horning-company-cleveland-ohio-color-landscape-wall-mural

Schmitz-Horning Co. wall art.

hugo max schmitz

Hugo Max Schmitz of Schmitz-Horning Company, Cleveland, Ohio.

In the early 1900s there existed a Cleveland, Ohio wallpaper and mural art manufacturing company named Schmitz-Horning Company. Artist and printmaker Hugo Max Schmitz, co-founder, artist, and a second or third generation German immigrant, produced large scale decorative wall pieces known as “friezes”. These pictorial wall decorations were applied to the upper third of walls in high class home and hallways or public buildings (the lower area was typically covered in a solid wallpaper to serve as background for furniture). The company was innovative in its German imports of large scale plates for their color lithography and chromolithography printing, and the first to develop, though unpatented, a washable wallpaper printed in oil colors and cleanable with a damp cloth without injury to the paper.

schmitz-horning-company-cleveland-ohio-sanibel-no-77211-wall-mural-sample

Wall paper mural sample showing A, B, C, and D sections. Sanibel Pattern No. 77211, Schmitz-Horning Co., Cleveland, Ohio.

Hugo wrote an article on ‘Wallpaper News’ for Arts & Decoration architecture magazine, October 1912 (pages 439-440) about this wall treatment and its application. According to the article, the wall decoration frieze was of a different concept than a typical wall border, which were to be used with wall-hangings. The designs were more independent in character, to take up not less than one quarter of the wall space (high room ceilings preferred), and its base should not be more than seven feet from the ground. The company also manufactured advertising posters.

queen-reynolds-home-euclid-ave-east-cleveland-ohio

Wife, Queen grew up in this E. Cleveland home on the north side of Euclid Avenue at Ivydale (across the street and down from the Rockefellers).

Mr. Schmitz knew many of the Cleveland School Artists, painted and sketched among them, and hired some of them to design wallpaper murals, including Henry Keller, and August Biehle. He also spoke of other local artists like Frank Wilcox and William Somer. He was close friends with Archibald Willard of Bedford, Ohio, who is known for his painting, The Spirit of ’76. Archibald Willard presented one of his landscape paintings to Hugo and his bride, Queen Reynolds for their wedding in 1902. Later he gave Hugo a table statue of the three soldiers depicted in his famous painting.

schmitz-horning-company-cleveland-ohio-hunt-sport-wall-mural

Schmitz-Horning Co. wallpaper mural, sports series.

National Painters magazine, Volume 39. 1912 (pages 734-735) stated the company first appeared at the wall paper show in 1905 with their panoramic friezes. Early popular designs included the “Navajo”, the “Chase” and the “Cupids and Garlands”, and were considered dominant features with their bright colors and more importantly real works of art at a considerable low cost. Other newer named catalog items are named in the article with color variances including a ‘Wizard of Oz’ series, and subject matter including gardens and castles, foliage and tree tops, grasses, sunsets, tropics, brooks, fabric effects, sporting panels and fox hunters, poker games and horse drawn carriages, witches and caldrons, animal cut-outs for children, even story-telling “Pocahontas and Captain John Smith”, ranging in size from 10-41 inches, some in repeats, and some in continuous designs extending to 20 feet. Schmitz Horning had small scale illustrations made in actual colors for their catalogs.

schmitz-horning-company-cleveland-ohio-plant-about-1925

The Schmitz-Horning Company building, Cleveland, Ohio, about 1925.

In Building Age architecture magazine, 1919, (page 78) the catalogs are noted as of interest to the trade, and the friezes are described as affordable decorations which retained qualities of hand work or mural paintings, were sanitary (cleanable) and were said not to stain or fade.

warren-reynolds-schmitz-schmitz-horning-company-cleveland-ohio

After the death of Hugo Max Schmitz, Schmitz-Horning Co. was run by his son, Warren Reynolds Schmitz.

Potter & Potter Auctions of Chicago has carried a number of Schmitz-Horning wall lithographs in their auctions.

The company was a member of The Wallpaper Council of New York, NY. After his tragic death by automobile accident in 1938, the business was run by Hugo’s son, Warren Reynolds Schmitz, until it closed sometime around 1960.

hugo-max-schmitz-original-watercolor-cleveland-ohio

Original watercolor by Hugo Max Schmitz.

Hugo Max Schmitz was my great-grandfather, and though I never met him, I have admiration for him and share his passion for art and printmaking. His personal artwork included original portrait work in watercolor and oils.

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