Louis Sinsheimer, Second Generation Jewish Merchant & 20 Year Mayor of San Luis Obispo, California

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Louis Sinsheimer

Values Codes: I-H-E-L-P

Louis Sinsheimer, the second son of Aaron (A.Z.) and Jeanette (Nettie) Sinheimer was born in 1869 in New York City.

He arrived, with his parents, after living a few years in Vicksburg, Mississippi, in San Luis Obispo in 1874, at the age of 5.

Louis Sinsheimer lived in San Luis Obispo for almost eight decades.

After finishing high school in San Francisco, Louis returned to San Luis Obispo to work in the family business, Sinsheimer Brothers, eventually assuming control.

Believing that “San Luis Obispo is a way of living rather than city,” Louis insisted on retaining the historical profile of the store all through the years of his management.

Sinsheimer's Bros. Store-San Louis Obispo,CA, #WS1652

Sinsheimer’s Bros. Store-San Louis Obispo,CA,
#WS1652

He also accumulated large ranching and oil interests in the county.

Fraternal

Louis Sinsheimer was an active Mason, serving as Master of the King David Lodge.

He was a life member of the Elks Lodge.

Civic

Louis Sinsheimer was active in the founding of the California State Polytechnic College (Now known as Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo), serving as a Trustee.

He was a member of the California Historical Society, maintaining his family’s archival records.

Louis Sinsheimer was a member of the Board of Freeholders who drafted the San Luis Obispo City Charter in 1910.

Louis Sinsheimer served as a member of the City Council and was named Commissioner of Public Works.

In 1919, Louis Sinsheimer was elected Mayor of San Luis Obispo. He held this position for almost 20 years.

Louis Sinsheimer Election Handout Card, 1925, WSJH Collection.

Louis Sinsheimer Election Handout Card, 1925,
WSJH Collection.

In his first year of elected office, on November 11, 1919, Mayor Louis Sinsheimer chaired the Welcome Home Day for the local veterans of the Great War, which included a parade with floats and decorated automobiles.

Two years later he obtained a large war surplus cannon for the Courthouse lawn.

While Mayor, Louis Sinsheimer never cashed his city pay warrants.

Montery Street, San Luis Obispo, 1930s Vintage Postcard

Montery Street, San Luis Obispo, 1930s Vintage Postcard

 

Louis Sinsheimer died in 1951.

He was remembered by family and community as a man who desired to preserve the values of the past.

In business and civic life he practiced the strictest economy, but in his interpersonal relationships he was known for his generosity and for the anonymity with which he sough to conceal it.

–Dr. Norton Stern, founder, Western States Jewish History Association

Legacy

The Louis Sinsheimer Elementary School is named in his honor.

Also, the City of San Luis Obispo now has a Sinsheimer Park, a Sinsheimer Stadium and a Sinsheimer Pool.

 

For more information see the following Issue of Western States Jewish History:

  • The Sinsheimers of San Luis Obispo, by Norton B. Stern and William M. Kramer, WSJH, Vol. 6, Issue 1, 1973.

 

David Epstein is Curator for this Louis Sinsheimer Exhibit.

Family Pictures and addition and corrections are graciously accepted, especially a picture of Louis Sinsheimer

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