Artifact Name: Business Card for Louis Schmidt’s Restaurant
Creator/Manufacturer: Louis Schmidt’s Restaurant
Location: Call No. E 0485, General Ephemera Collection, DC History Center, Washington, DC
Photographer: Sandra Kay Schmidt
Provenance: Amelia Barbara (Heimerdinger) Schmidt (1853-1937) → Richard H. “Dick” Mansfield (1888-1971) → DC History Center
Time Period: 1911-1917
DESCRIPTION: Louis Schmidt’s restaurant was founded by Balthasar Ludwig “Louis” Schmidt (1835-1908). After immigrating to America in 1853 and settling first near relatives in Boston, Louis relocated down to Washington, DC, where he found work as a bartender at the Metropolitan Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue in 1863. In 1875, at the age of 40, he started his own restaurant/saloon at 702 Seventh Street NW. Louis Schmidt’s Restaurant became a well-known fixture of the commercial district, catering to businesspersons, government officials, and other notable individuals. Louis himself became a respected figure in the community and received a lengthy obituary printed in the Washington Post. He ran this establishment until his death in 1908, after which point his widow, Amelia Barbara (Heimerdinger) Schmidt (1853-1937), and his son, Milton Louis Schmidt (1879-1940), operated it, still under the name “Louis Schmidt’s Restaurant.” Amelia and Milton added the ladies room (mentioned in the business card) in 1911. The establishment eventually closed down in late 1917, on the eve of Prohibition.
This white, rectangular trade card is made of paper cardstock and features black text in italicized typeset. The center of the card says, in large print, “Louis Schmidt’s Restaurant…” with the word “Restaurant” double-underlined. Beneath that, it says, “702 7th St. N.W.” At the bottom of the card, in smaller font, the left corner is printed with “Ladies’ Dining Rooms Up-Stairs.,” and the right corner is printed with “Washington, D. C.” Underneath the latter printed text is written, in pencil, “[MS 347],” which indicates that it had previously been included in the DC History Center’s “Richard H. Mansfield papers, 1880s-1969” collection, until a staff member chose to catalog this and other trade cards separately (in the “General Ephemera” collection) to make them more findable for researchers. Richard “Dick” Mansfield was a policeman and cartoonist for the Washington Star newspaper. One of his cartoons, which he drew as an advertisement for A. Eberly’s Sons in 1949, reminisces about the late-19th-century and early-20th-century German business community in Washington, DC, and mentions Louis’s wife (“Mrs. Schmidt”).