Henry John Heinz left a considerable legacy in the city of Pittsburgh. Henry John was the oldest of eight children born to German immigrants. He was a hard working businessman who grew it into a multi-million dollar enterprise based in Pittsburgh.
Henry was both shrewd and careful with his wealth. He gave generously to charitable and educational institutions. His endowment has carried on his charitable work. One of his favorite adages was, “Make all you can honestly, save all you can prudently, give all you can wisely.” This was followed closely by, “He who enjoys the first two (making an honest living and saving prudently) and deprives himself of the latter privilege (giving to others) denies himself the greatest enjoyment of life.”
In honor of Henry’s wife, Sarah, the Sarah Heinz House was built in 1913. This was a community center for the area’s children and it was an expansion of the boys’ club, the Covode House, that was built by his son Howard in 1901. At first the Covode House was limited to boys but girls were admitted in 1903, showing that they were way ahead of their time in opening their doors to girls. This brick and marble building, located next to the Heinz factory, housed a swimming pool, a gym, an auditorium, clubrooms and workshops. The Sarah Heinz House is still the center of activity and is part of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.
Henry died in his home from pneumonia on May 14, 1919, six months short of his 75th birthday. He was buried in Homewood Cemetery. Interestingly enough, the other two powerful industrial barons of Pittsburgh at the time, Carnegie and Frick, both died that same year as well. Henry started with just a little horseradish business and grew it into a multi-national corporation which is still going strong today. He left an estate of approximately $4 million ($80 million in today’s dollars). After his death, his employees who loved him so much funded a bronze statue in his likeness. At the time of his death, the North Side Heinz factory had more than 4,600 employees working in 22 acres of factory floor space. In addition to that there were branch factories, 40,000 acres of land on which to grow their produce and 40,000 people who harvested that produce, 71 salting houses, 45 distribution centers, and 400 salesmen who traveled the globe.
On the campus of the University of Pittsburgh in the Oakland neighborhood is a beautiful chapel called Heinz Memorial Chapel, opened in 1938, which was given as a gift to the University. It was built as a memorial to both Henry and his mother and is a non-denominational church which today is a very popular place for weddings.
Heinz Hall, formerly the Loew’s Penn Theater, was beautifully renovated and is the home of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.
Heinz also shared his wealth outside of the United States with the countries of Japan, China and Korea. He visited these countries when he was the chairman of the executive committee of the World’s Sunday School Association. Henry devoted much time and energy to the World Sunday School Association and to the Methodist Church. He worked very hard six days a week but reserved Sundays for worship and also for teaching Sunday School. It was not unusual for Mr. Heinz to visit Sunday schools in the area he happened to be as he believed so strongly in the influence and education Sunday school provided to its young students. He also never allowed his advertisements to run on Sundays as they were a day for the Sabbath.
Henry had strong roots in Pittsburgh and was a champion for the region. He was a long-time member of the local Chamber of Commerce and he never missed an opportunity to promote the Pittsburgh region and all it had to offer.
The Heinz legacy is thriving today. The products bearing the Heinz name can be found in over 200 countries around the
world. The company started with one product and today has thousands today. The company employees over 44,000 full-time employees plus countless others who work part-time or seasonally. The man named Heinz with the kind eyes, caring face, flowing mustache and side whiskers of so long ago would be very proud.
For other great articles on H.J. Heinz:
- H.J.: Heinz Company in Pittsburgh
- Heinz Ketchup: The Taste Loved “Round the World”
- H.J. Heinz: Marketing
By Diane Gliozzi