#AngelenoSwissHistoryMonth: Pioneer Eugene Germain
via google Book “Los Angeles from the Mountains to the Sea” (Download PDF – 30MB)
One of the oldest commercial institutions in Los Angeles is the Germain Seed and Plant Company, whose founder was the late Eugene Germain. He established his home at Los Angeles almost 150 years ago, and was a man of wide and influential relationships with the city until his death.
He was born in the French part of Switzerland, November 30, 1849. Educated in public schools and the college at Lausanne until he was twenty, he then came to New York City and after a short time went west to Los Angeles by way of Panama. His first enterprise in California was a restaurant, but soon afterward he opened a grocery store and gradually developed the commission business then known as the Germain Fruit Company. While it was a general commission firm, an important feature was the handling of seed, nursery stock, wines, and the operation of a fruit packing plant at Santa Ana. Eugene Germain continued as president of the business until 1893.
President Cleveland appointed him United States Consul to Switzerland for a term of four years, and during his absence the business was left in charge of a manager. On returning to Los Angeles he sold the wine department to his brother Edward and the commission business to Loeb-Fleishman & Company, and thereafter concentrated his attention upon the seed and nursery features under the name Germain Seed & Plant Company. In this line he continued active until his death in 1909, when his son succeeded him.
April 2, 1872, at Los Angeles, Eugene Germain married Caroline Sievers. They had five children: Edmund, of Brooklyn, New York; deceased; Lillian, wife of C. A. J. Sharman, of Alberta, Canada; Clare, at home; and Marc L.
Eugene Germain was the first president of the Board of Trade, one of the first vice-presidents of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, and a director and officer in many other important institutions. He was a Mason and Odd Fellow, a member of the Jonathan Club, a charter member of the California Club, and a democrat in politics.
Marc L. Germain, who was born at Los Angeles, August 20, 1882, attended the local public schools to the age of nine, and during his father’s residence abroad attended the schools at Zurich, Switzerland. He finished his education in Yale University, graduating in 1904. On returning to Los Angeles he became associated with his father in the Germain Seed & Plant Company, and as noted above, succeeded him as president in 1909. Eugene Germain has also been responsible for much building improvement in Los Angeles. Some of the buildings erected by him were the Germain Block’ on Los Angeles street, near Requena street, a building on Los Angeles between First and Second streets, another at the northwest corner of Fourth and Los Angeles streets, the Germain Hotel at Tenth and Hope streets, the Germain building at 224 South Spring, a large building at the southeast corner of Twelfth and Main streets, and 215. 219, 221 South Main, near Second street, now a parking lot.
The Germain business was originally located in the T- Kurtz building at First and Main streets, but in 1899 was moved to 326-330 South Main street. In 1918 a separation was made between the wholesale and retail departments, the retail being located at Sixth and Main streets and the wholesale at the Terminal Market.