WWhen people in Western New York hear the name “Schoellkopf,” they may associate it with many different things: the Schoellkopf Power Plant, which collapsed into the Niagara River in 1956; the Schoellkopf Geological Museum; the Schoellkopf Health Center and adjacent Schoellkopf Park; Or Schoellkopf Hall at the former DeVeaux School. Several generations of Schoellkopfs have left their mark not only in Niagara Falls but also in the Buffalo area.
The first to reach Western New York was Jacob, who came to Buffalo in 1844. His business interests were tanneries, and he established several throughout the United States. His first venture in Niagara Falls was the purchase and reopening of a hydraulic canal in 1877. Jacob used the canal to generate electricity to run the flour mill and brewery he owned along the canal.
Despite his business dealings with Niagara Falls, Jacob continued to live in Buffalo, first in a house in Franklin near Allen Street, then at the southeast corner of Delaware Avenue and Allen Street in 1882 Beautiful Victorian mansion with towers and turrets. The house was demolished in 1936 and used as a gas station. While not the original, there is still a gas station there. His home on Franklin Street survived. Jacob died in 1899, leaving his widow, Christine Durr Schoellkopf, and five surviving adult children (11 in total), including his third son Arthur, who is the subject of today’s Niagara Discoveries.
Arthur Schoellkopf was born on June 13, 1856 in Buffalo. His early education was in Buffalo, but at age 9 he was sent to the Academy of Kirchheim in Germany for the next four years. After returning to the United States, Arthur completed his studies in St. Louis. Joseph College of Buffalo. He then attended the Bryant & Stratton School of Business, where he completed his studies at Frontier Mills in Buffalo. When his father purchased the hydraulic canal in 1877 and formed the Niagara Falls Hydroelectric and Manufacturing Company, Arthur became the company’s secretary and treasurer.
Within two years, Arthur had become wealthy enough to build a large stone house on a triangular piece of land between Main Street, Pine Avenue, and Park Place (the house was demolished for a tire shop in 1935, but the property’s stone The wall is still there). Arthur married Jessie Gluck, daughter of Alva Gluck, one of Niagara Falls’ most prominent citizens, in 1880 , and builder of the Gluck Building, a Niagara Falls landmark that burned from 1892 until 1959. The couple had two children, Paul and Beatrice. A year after their marriage, Arthur, his father Jacob, and Charles Brush founded and operated the Brush Electric Light Company, which used 16 carbon arc lamps in Illuminated waterfall at night. He also built and managed the first horse-drawn streetcar system in Niagara Falls in 1882.
Another aspect of Schoellkopf’s business interests is his ownership of Niagara View Farms. It was located in what was then the open area of the town of Niagara, but is now located within the city of Niagara Falls. The modern boundaries of the farm are Hyde Park Avenue (then Sugar Street) to the west, Ontario Street to the north, Lynnwood Avenue to the south and Gill Creek to the east. This is a stud farm that has bred some of the finest horses in America, including the champion Trotter “King of Niagara”. It is hard to imagine that this farm is located in an area now covered by residential streets.
At the time, Schoellkopf was also on the boards of Niagara County Savings Bank, International Hotel Corporation and New York Mutual Savings and Loan Association. He has served as president of Power City Bank, Cliff Paper Company and Park Theater Company. In March 1896, he was elected mayor of Niagara Falls. His campaign slogan was “City government is business, not politics”, and all districts of the city were elected by a landslide.
According to an article in the Niagara Falls Gazette in 1897, Schoellkopf’s government was characterized by “no scandal, no quarrels in common committees; meetings were as business as they were, and did not last all night . . . He became the best we had mayor.” But after a year in office, Scherkopf decided not to run for re-election. He declined the Republican nomination for mayor in 1897 on the grounds that “his private business did not allow him to devote the necessary time to the affairs of the city.”
After serving as mayor, Schoellkopf continued his business and philanthropic endeavors in the city. In 1895, he was one of the founders of the Niagara Falls Memorial Hospital and the Niagara Falls branch of the YMCA. In 1906, Peter A. Porter approached Schoellkopf to donate a small triangular parcel across from his Main and Pine home for use as a city park. Schoellkopf gave the property to the city, and in 1920 the site became Soldiers, Sailors and Marines Memorial Park. Since then, additional memorials to veterans have been added.
In the 1910s, although only in his 50s, Schoellkopf’s health was impaired by “complex diseases”. He finds relief from his illness by wintering in Florida. On February 2, he was in Miami. In March 1913, he died of complications from a “severe illness”. He is 56 years old. After a funeral at First Presbyterian Church on First Street in Niagara Falls, Schoellkopf’s body was placed in a vault at Oakwood Cemetery rather than in the family plot in Buffalo’s Forest Lawn. The family decided to let him rest in the city where his home is located, where there are many connections. Schoellkopf and his wife Jessie died in 1928 and are buried in a mausoleum at Oakwood Cemetery.
Schoellkopf Park, located along Portage Road between Pine and Walnut Avenues, was a gift from Mrs. Schoellkopf honors her late husband. Schoellkopf Hall at the DeVeaux School (now DeVeaux Woods State Park) was named after Arthur’s son Paul, and the Schoellkopf Geology Museum (now the defunct Niagara Gorge Discovery Center) was so named because it was built on the site of the former Schoellkopf Power Plant On the site of the 1956 fall into the Niagara Gorge.