The year was 1929. The stock market had recently crashed. Financial times were difficult. Yet Joseph Henry Apple in his self-described “providential ignorance” was still dreaming of the Greater Hood College. The College was literally bursting at the seams. Dormitories were full and the College was by necessity operating out of two locations—the current campus and the Winchester Hall buildings downtown. The College operated a shuttle bus to link the two campuses. Dr. Apple and the trustees wanted to consolidate the activities on the main campus and that necessitated building a dormitory at an estimated cost of $200,000. They wondered how they would ever finance a building in such tough economic times. Yet it happened. Alumnae and friends donated over $50,000. A bond issue was floated and Louis and Marie Meyran, strong supporters of education and the work of the church, pledged $25,000. It was the largest contribution the College had ever received.
Louis Albert Meyran was a prominent businessman in early twentieth century Pittsburgh. Born June 23, 1859, he was the son of Charles H. and Sophia Flowers Meyran. His father, a native of Hamburg, Germany, was a man with valuable business foresight and a pioneer in Pittsburgh industry.
Educated in Pittsburgh’s public schools, he attended Western University of Pennsylvania (now the University of Pittsburgh), and graduated in 1878 from one of the leading colleges in Hamburg, Germany. He began his career as an iron and steel broker in Chicago. In 1880 he joined the Canonsburg Iron Company Limited (later the Canonsburg Iron and Steel Company) serving as secretary and treasurer. This was followed by employment with the Parkersburg (W.V.) Iron and Steel Company of which he was an executive for many years.
Additionally Mr. Meyran was an official in various manufacturing concerns and was connected with a number of Pittsburgh’s leading financial institutions. He was vice president of Manufacturer’s Heat and Light Company; vice president of the New Cumberland Water and Gas Company; vice president of Venture Oil Company; and vice president of Citizen’s Bank. In all his business endeavors, Mr. Meyran was respected for his intelligence, business insight, fair dealings, and progressive ideas.
In 1885 Louis Meyran married Marie Herrosee, daughter of Charles F. and Marie Henriette Herrosee, who were of German descent. Little is known about Marie Meyran. The only glimpses we have of Marie are found in her will and mentions of her made by Mr. Meyran in his correspondence with the College. In addition to Hood, she also left money in her will to her church, a number of Pittsburgh hospitals, relatives in Germany, and a number of friends.
The Meyran’s were active and committed members of Pittsburgh’s Grace Reformed Church (no longer in existence). They frequently are mentioned in newspaper accounts and minute books chronicling church activities.
In addition to their gifts to Hood, the Meyrans also gave money for the construction of Franklin-Meyran Hall on the Franklin and Marshall College campus. Meyran Avenue in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh is named in memory of Louis Meyran’s father, Charles.
Mr. Meyran died in October 1941. He and Mrs. Meyran, who died in May of 1942, are buried in a mausoleum in the historic Homewood Cemetery near Pittsburgh’s Frick and Schenley Parks. The Meyrans had one son, Carl, who died in South Africa in 1963. A grandson, William, was killed in action in World War II. A granddaughter, Gloria, may survive, but the College has lost contact with her.