Most of us at from Youngstown have been to Stambaugh Auditorium at some point in our lives — children’s concerts, graduations, weddings, speakers, Youngstown Symphony concerts, Monday Musical performances, and popular concerts. One that I missed at which I would have loved to been present was Bruce Springsteen’s performance, when he sang “Youngstown.” His song about the death of Youngstown’s steel industry was sung in the house built by the wealth of one of Youngstown’s steel magnates.
Henry Hamilton. Stambaugh, was born in Brier Hill Nov. 24, 1858 to John and Caroline Stambaugh. His father was born there as well on March 8, 1827. It seems that someone so involved in the Valley’s steel history was born in the heart of it. John Stambaugh worked closely with David Tod in the early development of Tod’s coal and iron industries in Brier Hill.
Henry H. Stambaugh was educated in the Youngstown schools and then went on to college at Cornell University, graduating in 1881. He returned to follow his father in working in the coal and iron industry. He served as secretary, treasurer, and president of the Brier Hill Iron and Coal Company, founded the Brier Hill Steel Company and later served as a director of Youngstown Sheet and Tube. He also was on the boards of many of the city’s banks and active in civic and philanthropic affairs in the city. In addition to his residence at 1051 Belmont Avenue, he owned farms in Canfield and Liberty Township.
His death came as a shock to all of Youngstown. He died suddenly on January 4, 1919 from unexplained causes in New Orleans, where he had stopped for a visit on the way back from California to Youngstown. He was laid to rest in simple services at St. John’s Episcopal church with burial at Oak Hill Cemetery.
Wisely, Stambaugh had written his will two months earlier and several of his bequests left a lasting impact on Youngstown. His farm in Canfield was given to establish a Boy Scout Camp, Camp Stambaugh. His farm in Liberty Township was donated to Youngstown to create a park and recreation area and is now the Henry Stambaugh Golf Course. He gave sizable gifts to the Community Chest and Youngstown Foundations, enabling each to expand their work.
Perhaps the most remembered part of his will was the funds set aside for construction of a public auditorium for the people of Youngstown. He named as trustees of this fund John Stambaugh, Asael E. Adams, Rollin S. Steese, William B. Hall and Phillip J. Thompson (president of Stambaugh-Thompson). They met on August 3, 1920, forming the Henry H. Stambaugh Auditorium Association. They elected John Stambaugh president of the association. A site was chosen for construction and the auditorium was opened in December 6, 1926. The construction of this magnificent building, which has undergone recent restoration efforts, cost $1.5 million (about $25 million today). His mother was even remembered in the naming of the street north of the auditorium “Caroline.”
Henry H. Stambaugh not only helped build the steel industry but one of the most iconic structures of the city that has served as a center of cultural events for nearly 100 years. Thank you, Mr. Stambaugh.
To read other posts in the Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown series, just click “On Youngstown.” Enjoy!