Cyrus Hermann Kotzschmar Curtis

Cyrus Hermann Kotzschmar Curtis

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Cyrus Hermann Kotzschmar Curtis (June 18, 1850 – June 7, 1933) was an American publisher of magazines and newspapers, including the Ladies' Home Journal
Ladies' Home Journal
Ladies' Home Journal is an American magazine which first appeared on February 16, 1883, and eventually became one of the leading women's magazines of the 20th century in the United States...

and the Saturday Evening Post.

Biography


Born in Portland, Maine
Portland, Maine
Portland is the largest city in Maine and is the county seat of Cumberland County. The 2010 city population was 66,194, growing 3 percent since the census of 2000...

, he was forced to leave high school after his first year when his family lost their home in the Great Fire of Portland
1866 Great Fire of Portland, Maine
The Great Fire of Portland, Maine occurred on July 4, 1866 — the first Independence Day after the end of the American Civil War. Five years before the Great Chicago Fire, this was the greatest fire yet seen in an American city. It started in a boat house on Commercial Street, likely caused by...

 in 1866. He held a variety of newspaper and advertising jobs in Portland and Boston before establishing his first publication, weekly titled People's Ledger in Boston in 1872. In 1876, he relocated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia is the largest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the county seat of Philadelphia County, with which it is coterminous. The city is located in the Northeastern United States along the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers. It is the fifth-most-populous city in the United States,...

 in pursuit of lower printing costs.

His first wife was Louisa Knapp
Louisa Knapp Curtis
Louisa Knapp Curtis , sometimes known only as Louisa Knapp, was the author of a column, and later, the separate supplement included with the magazine, Tribune and Farmer, that in 1883 would become a separate magazine, the Ladies' Home Journal, which still is published.Her column in the Tribune and...

. In 1883 she contributed a one-page supplement to the Tribune and Farmer, a magazine that was published by Curtis. The supplement became an independent publication the following year, with Louisa as the editor of this new magazine. Its original name was The Ladies Home Journal and Practical Housekeeper, but she dropped the last three words in 1886, and it became the Ladies Home Journal. It rapidly became the leading magazine of its type, reaching a circulation of more than one million copies within ten years. Louisa Knapp remained as its editor until she was succeeded by Edward William Bok in 1889. Bok became the son-in-law of Louisa and Cyrus Curtis several years later when he married their daughter, Mary Louise, in 1896. Bok retired from the magazine in 1919, but he made important changes to the magazine that made it even more popular.

Curtis founded the Curtis Publishing Company
Curtis Publishing Company
The Curtis Publishing Company, founded in 1891 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, became one of the largest and most influential publishers in the United States during the early 20th century. The company's publications included the Ladies' Home Journal and The Saturday Evening Post, The American Home,...

 in 1891; it published the Ladies' Home Journal
Ladies' Home Journal
Ladies' Home Journal is an American magazine which first appeared on February 16, 1883, and eventually became one of the leading women's magazines of the 20th century in the United States...

and the Saturday Evening Post, as well as several other magazines. A separate company founded by Curtis, Curtis-Martin Newspapers, Inc., controlled several newspapers, including for a time the major newspapers the Public Ledger
Public Ledger (Philadelphia)
The Public Ledger was a daily newspaper in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania published from March 25, 1836 to January 1942. Its motto was "Virtue Liberty and Independence". For a time, it was Philadelphia's most popular newspaper, but circulation declined in the mid-1930s.-Early history:Founded by William...

, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the New York Evening Post. Problems with managers at the newspapers led to poor financial returns from the publications, and eventually, the newspapers were sold.

During his lifetime, Curtis' businesses were extremely successful. The Ladies Home Journal was for decades the most widely circulating women's magazine in the US and the Post had biggest circulation of any weekly magazine in the world. In 1929, the Post and the Journal together carried 40 percent of all US magazine advertising. One source lists Curtis as the 51st richest person ever, with a fortune of $43.2 billion (adjusted for inflation to 2008 dollars), which according to this source made him richer than either Paul Allen
Paul Allen
Paul Gardner Allen is an American business magnate, investor, and philanthropist. Allen co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates...

 or J. P. Morgan
J. P. Morgan
John Pierpont Morgan was an American financier, banker and art collector who dominated corporate finance and industrial consolidation during his time. In 1892 Morgan arranged the merger of Edison General Electric and Thomson-Houston Electric Company to form General Electric...

.

Curtis built Lyndon, a Renaissance revival style estate in Wyncote, Pennsylvania
Wyncote, Pennsylvania
Wyncote is a census-designated place in Cheltenham Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 3,044 at the 2010 census...

, with landscaping designed by Frederick Law Olmstead.

In the summer of 1932, Curtis suffered a heart attack while aboard his yacht, the Lyndonia
USS Lyndonia (SP-734)
USS Lyndonia , later known as USS Vega was a yacht acquired by the U.S. Navy during World War I. She was assigned as an armed patrol craft, but, at times, performed other duties along the U.S. East Coast, such as dispatch boat and training ship for the U.S. Naval Academy...

. While he was recuperating at Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia, his second wife, Kate Stanwood Cutter Pillsbury, died suddenly. He remained in frail health until he died on June 7, 1933, less than two weeks before his eighty-third birthday, and he was interred in West Laurel Hill Cemetery
West Laurel Hill Cemetery
West Laurel Hill Cemetery is a cemetery located in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, United States. It is the site of many notable burials, and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1992...

 at Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania
Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania
Bala Cynwyd is a community in Lower Merion Township which is located on the Main Line in southeastern Pennsylvania, bordering the western edge of Philadelphia at US Route 1 . It was originally two separate towns, Bala and Cynwyd, but is commonly treated as a single community...

.

Soon after his death, most of the buildings on Curtis' estate were demolished and his daughter founded the Curtis Hall Arboretum
Curtis Hall Arboretum
The Curtis Hall Arboretum, sometimes called Curtis Arboretum, is a forty-five-acre arboretum that is located at 1250 Church Road , Wyncote, Pennsylvania. The arboretum was founded by Mary Louise Curtis Bok, in honor of her father, Cyrus Curtis. The landscaping was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted...

on the site. In the former headquarters of the Curtis Publishing Company, she founded a commercial center, the Curtis Center, which now houses a conference center, offices, a health club, shops, and restaurants.

Cyrus Curtis was among the initial ten inductees in the American Advertising Federation
American Advertising Federation
The American Advertising Federation , headquartered in Washington, D.C., is the oldest national advertising trade association, representing 50,000 professionals in the advertising industry. The AAF has a national network of 200 ad clubs located in ad communities across the United States...

's Advertising Hall of Fame (1999).

Philanthropy


Cyrus Curtis is number 20 on a list of the richest Americans. He was known for his philanthropy
Philanthropy
Philanthropy etymologically means "the love of humanity"—love in the sense of caring for, nourishing, developing, or enhancing; humanity in the sense of "what it is to be human," or "human potential." In modern practical terms, it is "private initiatives for public good, focusing on quality of...

 to hospitals, museums, universities, and schools. He donated $2 million to the Franklin Institute
Franklin Institute
The Franklin Institute is a museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and one of the oldest centers of science education and development in the United States, dating to 1824. The Institute also houses the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial.-History:On February 5, 1824, Samuel Vaughn Merrick and...

, $1.25 million to the Drexel Institute of Technology
Drexel University
Drexel University is a private research university with the main campus located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. It was founded in 1891 by Anthony J. Drexel, a noted financier and philanthropist. Drexel offers 70 full-time undergraduate programs and accelerated degrees...

 for the construction of Curtis Hall, and $1 million to the University of Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania is a private, Ivy League university located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. Penn is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States,Penn is the fourth-oldest using the founding dates claimed by each institution...

. He obtained a pipe organ
Pipe organ
The pipe organ is a musical instrument that produces sound by driving pressurized air through pipes selected via a keyboard. Because each organ pipe produces a single pitch, the pipes are provided in sets called ranks, each of which has a common timbre and volume throughout the keyboard compass...

 manufactured by the Austin Organ Company
Austin Organs, Inc.
Austin Organs, Inc. is a manufacturer of pipe organs based in Hartford, Connecticut. The company is one of the oldest continuously-operating organ manufacturers in the United States...

, which had been displayed at the Philadelphia Sesquicentennial Exposition of 1926
Sesquicentennial Exposition
The Sesqui-Centennial International Exposition of 1926 was a world's fair hosted in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the signing of the United States Declaration of Independence, and the 50th anniversary of the 1876 Centennial Exposition-History:The honor of hosting...

 and donated it to the University of Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania is a private, Ivy League university located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. Penn is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States,Penn is the fourth-oldest using the founding dates claimed by each institution...

. It was built into Irvine Auditorium
Irvine Auditorium
Irvine Auditorium is a performance venue at 3401 Spruce Street on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was designed by the firm of prominent architect Horace Trumbauer and built 1926–1932...

 when the building was constructed, and is known to this day as the Curtis Organ
Curtis Organ
The Curtis Organ, named for publisher Cyrus H. K. Curtis, is one of the largest pipe organs in the world with 162 ranks and 10,731 pipes. It was manufactured by the Austin Organ Company as its Opus 1416 in 1926 for the Philadelphia Sesquicentennial Exposition. It was known as the "Organists'...

. It is one of the largest pipe organ
Pipe organ
The pipe organ is a musical instrument that produces sound by driving pressurized air through pipes selected via a keyboard. Because each organ pipe produces a single pitch, the pipes are provided in sets called ranks, each of which has a common timbre and volume throughout the keyboard compass...

s in the world. Curtis donated pipe organs to many institutions in Philadelphia and the biography retained in the library of his burial location notes that on the day of his funeral, all of those organs were played to honor him.

In memory of his boyhood music teacher, Curtis donated the Kotzschmar Memorial Organ
Kotzschmar Memorial Organ
The Kotzschmar Memorial Organ, usually referred to as the Kotzschmar Organ, is a pipe organ located inside the city-owned Merrill Auditorium in Portland, Maine, United States. Built in 1911 by the Austin Organ Co...

 to Portland City Hall Auditorium
Merrill Auditorium
Merrill Auditorium is a 1,900-seat auditorium located in Portland, Maine, United States. Originally known as Portland City Hall Auditorium, it is located in the eastern section of Portland City Hall. Organizations such as Portland Ovations and the Portland Symphony Orchestra use the auditorium as a...

 in 1912. In Thomaston, Maine
Thomaston, Maine
Thomaston, Maine is a town on the coast of Maine the United States. The name may also refer to:*Thomaston , Maine, a census-designated place comprising the center of the town*South Thomaston, Maine, an adjacent town...

, he funded the 1927-29 recreation of Montpelier, the demolished 1795 mansion of Revolutionary War general, Henry Knox
Henry Knox
Henry Knox was a military officer of the Continental Army and later the United States Army, and also served as the first United States Secretary of War....

.

Curtis was a major organizer for and backer of the Philadelphia Orchestra
Philadelphia Orchestra
The Philadelphia Orchestra is a symphony orchestra based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the United States. One of the "Big Five" American orchestras, it was founded in 1900...

. He anonymously made up its deficits in its early years. Mary Louise Curtis Bok
Mary Louise Curtis Bok Zimbalist
Mary Louise Curtis Bok , was the founder of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. She was the only child of the magazine and newspaper magnate, Cyrus Curtis and Louisa Knapp Curtis, the founder and editor of the Ladies Home Journal...

 founded Philadelphia's Curtis Institute of Music
Curtis Institute of Music
The Curtis Institute of Music is a conservatory in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that offers courses of study leading to a performance Diploma, Bachelor of Music, Master of Music in Opera, and Professional Studies Certificate in Opera. According to statistics compiled by U.S...

, and dedicated it to her father in 1924.

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