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

Louis Sinsheimer

Values Codes I – H – E – L – P


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

He arrived in San Luis Obispo in 1874, at age 5, after living a few years in Vicksburg, Mississippi.


San Luis Obispo

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

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

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

Louis Sinsheimer also accumulated large ranching and oil interests in the county.

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

Sinsheimer Bros., San Louis Obispo, CA, #WS1652


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

He was a life member of the Elks Lodge.



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

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

He was also a member of the Board of Freeholderswho 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, he was elected Mayor of San Luis Obispo, a position he held for almost 20 years.

Louis Sinsheimer Election Handout Card, 1925, WSJH Collection.

Louis Sinsheimer election handout card, 1925, WSJH Archive

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, 1930’s, 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

Sinsheimer Elementary School in San Luis Obispo is named in his honor.

Also, the City of San Luis Obispo now has a Sinsheimer ParkSinsheimer Stadiumand Sinsheimer Pool.



  • Norton B. Stern, “The Sinsheimers of San Luis Obispo,” Western States Jewish Historical Quarterly 6:1.

David Epstein is curator of this Louis Sinsheimer exhibit.