The story of Hans H. Schambach ’43 and the building that bears his name is the ultimate tale of remembering one’s roots. Schambach was born in Germany and came to the States at the age of 14 to live with his uncle and aunt in Clinton. They were Walter and Anna (known as “Frau”) Schmitt, the custodian and cook at the Alpha Delta Phi house on College Hill. In 1939 Schambach began working his way through Hamilton only to be interrupted two years later when the country entered World War II. His status as a German citizen led to his classification as an enemy alien, and he was subsequently interned for two years at a camp run by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service in Bismarck, N.D.
In 1947 Schambach established a business dealing in and fabricating precious metals, primarily for the jewelry industry. On one of his Elihu Root visits to the Hill, he met Jack Boynton ’51, an Alpha Delt whose father was treasurer and a major stockholder in Handy and Harman, a supplier of precious metals in New York City. A line of credit obtained from that firm, thanks to his introduction to the elder Boynton, helped Schambach advance his own business. His company, Hamilton Cast Corp., was named after the College. In 1972 he merged it with Atlantic Oil Corp. and became chairman of its board, serving until his retirement in 1982.
Ever supportive of Hamilton, Schambach joined the board of trustees in 1980. Believing that a college education was available to him only because of a scholarship he received, he established in 1983 a fund that today offers one of the most prestigious scholarship awards to entering students. Five years later, the Schambach Center for Music and the Performing Arts opened, and was fittingly named for him. Throughout the years, Schambach had pursued a love of music by assembling one of the finest private collections of Italian and French stringed instruments, including two rare Stradivarius violins.
“It is fantastic to see this completed,” he told the Syracuse Post-Standard in an article featuring the building’s dedication. “It is the great American dream — getting here as an immigrant boy and reaching a point where I could help.”