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Henry Schmulbach


Brewer and businessman Henry Schmulbach (November 12, 1844-August 12, 1915) was born in Germany, and moved to Wheeling with his family as a child. The Schmulbachs joined a thriving German immigrant community in the Northern Panhandle. Henry went to work with his uncle in the retail grocery business while still a teenager, later switching to the wholesale liquor trade.

In coming years Schmulbach established himself as a leader in Wheeling business and industry. He worked as a merchant until 1881, then purchased the Nail City Brewery in 1882, renaming it the Schmulbach Brewing Company and increasing capacity to 200,000 barrels annually. He was president of the German Bank, now WesBanco, president of the Wheeling Bridge Company, and president of local telephone and streetcar companies. He was the owner of steamboats and a stockholder in several iron and nail companies.

Like many in the streetcar business, Schmulbach established an amusement park to bolster ridership on weekends and holidays. His Mozart Park was built on top of a hill overlooking South Wheeling. Schmulbach built an impressive inclined railway to reach the hilltop park, opening it to riders in 1893. The incline itself soon became a major attraction, reportedly carrying as many as 1,200 passengers an hour.

In 1904–07, Schmulbach had the Schmulbach Building constructed, West Virginia’s first high-rise office building. Still a Wheeling landmark, it was the headquarters of the former Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel and is now being renovated into loft apartments with street-level retail options. Schmulbach’s Chapline Street house is one of a group of eight Victorian row houses added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. Many visitors find a humorous resemblance to a dollar mark in his intertwined initials on the doorway.

Henry Schmulbach died at home in Wheeling.

Read the National Register nomination for the Chapline Street Row Historic District.