AJS Hotels Louisville Founder
No single individual changed the landscape of Louisville, Kentucky during the Twentieth century more than Al J. Schneider. Renowned for his independence, he was a self-made man who built Louisville institutions, and in doing so, became one himself.
As a contractor, Al Schneider built hotels, schools, banking institutions, office complexes and medical facilities over a period of six decades. As a developer, he was the person most responsible for bringing Louisville’s economic and tourism focus back to its Main Street roots adjacent to the Ohio River. As a devout Roman Catholic he built and donated monasteries, colleges, steeples, social service agencies and dozens of churches and schools at cost. As a family man and philanthropist, he created a legacy of generosity for future generations to follow.
By the age of 24, Al Schneider had served his apprenticeship and earned the status as a master builder. He opened his own independent business, the Al J. Schneider Construction Company, and began building small houses in the Shively area. In November 1933, during the height of the Depression, he married Thelma French, a young secretary from the South End who worked in the 10-story Columbia Building on the corner of Fourth and Main Streets. Today at that location a bronze marker, erected in loving memory by her husband and family, relates an inspiring American success story:
THELMA FRENCH SCHNEIDER is an example that anything can be accomplished with hard work and determination. In 1928 her first job was at this site when it was known as the Columbia Building, then the tallest skyscraper of the South, earning twelve dollars a week. At the time of her death April 20, 1995, she owned the now present building debt free.
Thelma and Al worked hard to build their fledgling construction company. In the early days they toiled tirelessly to complete deadlines, with Thelma often carrying the coal oil and lantern while he finished concrete work on foundations. She served as the company’s bookkeeper, a position she enjoyed until the company, and her own family, began to increase. As the mother of six children, her contribution to the home became the focus of her life.