Los Angeles County
ALFRED GUIDO RUDOLPH SCHLOESSER
SCHLOESSER, ALFRED GUIDO RUDOLPH, retired Physician, Capitalist and Art Connoisseur, Los Angeles, California, was born in Chicago, Illinois, Aril 19, 1851, the son of Rudolph and Amalia (Hoffmann) Schloesser. He married Emma M. R. McDonell, daughter of General A. A. McDonell, in Chicago, November 19, 1874. There are four children, Alexander R. Schloesser, Mrs. J. G. Barnett, Mrs. George F. Stone and Mrs. Eric E. Eastman.
Dr. Schloesser, although born amid luxurious surroundings, began his career at the bottom of the ladder. He first attended the grammar schools of Chicago, and then the Select High School of Professor C. J. Belleke, a noted instructor of his day. The school was an exclusive private institution, and Dr. Schloesser studied there under private tutors for a time, later attending Concordia College at Fort Wayne, Ind., a theological institute. He graduated in medicine from Rush Medical College, Chicago, in 1871.
Leaving Rush Medical College with high honors, Dr. Schloesser took post graduate courses at the Universities of Wurzburg, Heidelberg, Vienna, Berlin, Paris and London. While he was a student at Vienna in 1873, he volunteered as assistant physician in the Imperial Royal Allgemeines Krankenhaus, during the cholera epidemic. He made a special study of dermatology and laryngology, and after his return to Chicago, he practiced along those lines for several years.
Dr. Schloesser comes of a family prominent in Germany and America. His father, Rudolph Schloesser, built one of the first pretentious office buildings in Chicago after the great conflagration in 1871. The building was known as the Schloesser Block. The elder Schloesser was a successful banker and real estate operator in Chicago for many years. He was one of the most prominent pioneers of Chicago, an associate of Potter Palmer, Marshall Field and Pullman.
Many of Dr. Schloesser’s ancestors frequented the royal courts of Germany. A great aunt, who was a singer of rare talent, won the heart of Count Paul von Hopffgarten with her beautiful soprano voice, and their marriage was one of the most pleasing romances of the German empire of that day. Count von Hopffgarten was Lord Chamberlain to Frederick William III of Prussia, a man as popular and distinguished in the affairs of government as his wife was beautiful and talented.
Count von Hopffgarten was captain of Alexander’s regiment, named in honor of Alexander III of Russia. This regiment was the favorite bodyguard of Emperor William I, grandfather of the present German Emperor. It was first formed by Frederick the Great of Prussia, and it was necessary for every member of the guard to be six feet tall. To be captain it was necessary for Count von Hopffgarten to boast of twelve ancestral noblemen and an income of 12,000 thalers or $10,000 a year to maintain his social position.
Dr. Schloesser’s mother was Amalia Hoffmann, one of the aristocratic von Groppe family of Germany. Her brother, Francis A. Hoffmann, was an attorney of high standing, and served as Lieutenant-Governor of Illinois with Governor Richard Yates during the Civil War. Mr. Hoffmann possessed a magnetic personality and was an eloquent orator. With his powerful voice, he persuaded many a farmer’s son to fight for the preservation of the Union, and he further distinguished himself by not only organizing, but fully equipping a company of cavalry at his own expense. This cavalry was known as the Hoffmann Dragoons. His loyalty and zeal in the cause won him the merited friendship of Abraham Lincoln.
A cousin of Dr. Schloesser’s was the famous General Victor von Vahlkamph, whom Emperor William I personally decorated with the Order of the Iron Cross for bravery, the highest decoration for bravery to be conferred in the German Empire. The General was sent before Paris in 1871, when an army of 85,000 men were caught in an ambuscade. He was given carte blanche orders by Field Marshal Count von Moltke to use his own judgment in saving the army, and with this responsibility on his shoulders, he extricated the men without a single loss.
The famous Field Marshal Count von Moltke was a relative of Dr. Schloesser’s by marriage. During one of his trips to Europe, Dr. Schloesser was entertained by him on his estate in Silesia. One of Von Moltke’s nephews married Dr. Schloesser’s sister.
Dr. Schloesser was a close friend of James G. Blaine, and at the solicitation of mutual friend, a member of the House of Representatives at that time, the Secretary of State gave Dr. Schloesser a letter of introduction to the ambassadors, ministers and consuls of the United States abroad. This letter, which Dr. Schloesser values as a priceless relic of the famous statesman, follows:
“Department of State,
“Washington, Dec. 8, 1890.
“To the Diplomatic and Consular Officers of the United States:
“Gentlemen—At the instance of the Honorable George E. Adams, a member of the House of Representatives from Illinois, I herewith introduce to you Dr. Alfred G. Schloesser of Chicago, and ask for him your official courtesies.
“I am, gentlemen, your obedient servant,
“JAMES G. BLAINE.”
Through this letter Dr. Schloesser had audiences with the royal houses. During that trip, made in 1891, he was the guest of General Lew Wallace, then minister at Constantinople. His visit to General A. A. Thomas and the King at Stockholm, Sweden, resulted in his introduction to the Royal Central Institute, the great medical institute of Stockholm, and his study of the Ling system of treating spinal curvatures, on which later he wrote an extensive treatise.
On his visit to Constantinople, Dr. Schloesser was presented by General Wallace to the Sultan Abdul Hamid, who is now a prisoner at Salonika. On this occasion, the Sultan honored him with an invitation to drink coffee, after which he was ushered into one of the windows of the Palace, where, with the Sultan, he reviewed 30,000 troops. During his sojourn in Turkey, Dr. Schloesser was also signally honored by General Wallace, who gave him his cavas, or personal bodyguard, as an escort.
On one of his tours of the world, Dr. Schloesser was within 700 miles of the North Pole.
In 1894, Dr. Schloesser bought a mining prospect in Lassen county, California, for which he paid $10,000. This he quickly developed into a property which yielded a new profit of $25,000 a month. Although owner, he worked his way up from pick and shovel man to the assay office in order to become thoroughly familiar with mining. He built a 100-ton cyanide mill on the property, the first in Lassen county.
His experience in the mining business is characteristic of his whole career. He began at the bottom, working his way up, battling with the obstacles and overcoming them with brain and brawn, until at last he found himself the master of one of the most prosperous mining properties in the West.
Attracted by the climate, Dr. Schloesser went to Los Angeles in 1909, engaging in the bond investment, real estate and loan business, handling mostly his personal funds and estate. He has transferred most of his holdings from the East to Los Angeles and Hollywood.
One of his most valuable properties is the land on which is located the Corn Exchange National Bank building of Chicago, now valued at $1,250,000. He is at the present time contemplating the construction of a $2,000,000 hotel at Hollywood, a suburb of Los Angeles, where he resides. There he lives in Castle Sans Souci of Schloesser Terrace. The castle is of Tudor-Gothic style and is one of the most beautiful in California. It contains twenty-three rooms, and includes a Baronial Hall and a Louis XV drawing room.
Into this “castle without care,” Dr. Schloesser has brought some of the most famous art treasures of the old world. It contains famous paintings by old masters, ancient wood carvings—fantastic and weird, and vases and tapestries that have been the admiration of tourists from other countries who have met the doctor on his trips abroad, or who have come to him with letters of introduction from his famous and titled kinsmen in Germany.
Dr. Schloesser has been a liberal patron of the artists of the present day, and has in his castle some of the most famous works of his late friend and neighbor, Paul de Longpre. Among these are “Wild Roses,” de Longpre’s second best work, and his “Poinsettas” and “Poppies.” A remarkable original painting of an Italian peasant girl by F. Andreatti, entitled “Pleasant Recollections,” hangs in Dr. Schloesser’s private study. In the art gallery of the castle and in the halls may be seen Field’s “Coming On of the Storm,” “Dutch Interior” by Van der Hyse, a copy of Corregio’s “Jupiter and Antioch” by Alexandre, a copy of Titian’s “Model” by Alexandre, “Shoeing the Mare” by Lancier, “Satyr Conversing With Peasant” by Jordens, Madame Le Brun’s “Marie Antoinette With Rose,” “Dignity and Impudence” by Lancier, “Siege of Chinatown” by Rodgers, “Charles I” by Van Dyke, the most famous picture ever painted by him of Charles I; Messonier’s “Poet” by Alexandre, an original picture of a German army officer entitled “In a Quandary,” by Jean Berne Belle Cour, a pupil of Messonier; a picture of Maximillian I before the siege of Mersebourg, painted by Molkenboer after Albert Duerer, a famous tapestry by Ben Volkmer after Boucher, a portrait by Mme. Le Brun of her daughter, a copy of Peter Paul Rubens’ “Consequences of War,” a portrait of Peter Paul Rubens’ second wife and son by Professor Huehne of Munich, a famous wood carving adorned with cherubs expressing every mood, a vase made of clay adorned with cherubs representing night and morning, and exhibited at the Chicago World’s Fair; a Carrara marble bust of Victoria Collona, poetess of Italy. These are only a few of the art treasures in this wonder castle, and Dr. Schloesser adds to his collection every year.
The grounds of Castle Sans Souci were laid out by Nils Emitslof, a famous European landscape artist, and when completely developed will be unsurpassed in landscape artistry in this country.
Dr. Schloesser possesses a Gothic coat of mail of the Fifteenth Century handed down to him from his ancestors. His coat of arms—a key, rosettes, helmet, shield and wings—are frescoed on the ceiling of the baronial hall, as are also the coat of arms of Mrs. Schloesser.
Two lions made of Carrara marble, and which are 144 years old, adorn the entrance to the castle, and also bear the Schloesser coat of arms. These lions formerly adorned the entrance to the palace of the last Doge of Venice.
The inside of the castle contains marble statutes imported from Italy to conform with the style of architecture.
Dr. Schloesser is a member of the Masons, Commandery No. 9, is a Knight Templar and a Shriner. He belongs to the Jonathan Club, the Gamut Club, the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, the Hollywood Club, and the Hollywood Board of Trade.
Transcribed by Joyce Rugeroni.
Source: Press Reference Library, Western Edition Notables of the West, Vol. I, Pages 541-542, International News Service, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Atlanta. 1913.
© 2010 Joyce Rugeroni.