Syracuse’s history as ‘Candle City USA’

Eagle Newspapers
Eagle Newspapers

SYRACUSE — The Christmas season is enriched by candles.

When entering Syracuse on Route 81 from the north, just before you reach Onondaga Lake, you will see a 100-foot chimney to your right (to the west) with a candle painted on it. This is the site of the long-closed Will and Baumer Candle Company.

During the early part of the 20th century, Will and Baumer was one of the largest candle companies in the world. Syracuse also claimed four other candle companies and was known as “Candle City USA.”

German immigrant Anthony (Anton) Will is considered the founder of Will and Baumer. Will, who was trained as a candle maker, arrived in Syracuse in 1855 and began working as a carpenter at the Syracuse salt works. He quickly recognized that there were no candle factories in the United States at the time. Responding to that opportunity, Will and his wife Rosina began making beeswax altar candles for the local Catholic church in their Northside home. Business quickly grew and he was receiving orders from New York City. A priest lent him money to expand his business. He became a wealthy man but died in 1866 in his early thirties.

My mother, Grace (Spaeth) Dahlin’s grandfather, John Spaeth, was Will’s cousin. John and Anthony Will’s maternal grandmothers were sisters. Both were active members of the German-founded Assumption Church on North Salina Street. Will was a witness to John’s 1857 marriage and John was godparent to two of Anthony and Rosina’s children.

Of particular interest is Will’s oldest son, Louis Will (1857-1932), who not only was the first president of Will and Baumer, but he was the first independent mayor of Syracuse (1914-1916). Current mayor Ben Walsh is the second independent candidate to serve.

–Submitted by Roger Dahlin

Roger Dahlin is a wildflower gardener and historian in Baldwinsville. To learn more, visit .

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