The mid-1800s westward migration in America was driven by risk-taking young men looking for fortune. David N. Walter emigrated from the Old World to stake a claim in the West. After opening a dry goods business in San Francisco in 1858, he and one of his brothers, Emanuel Walter, formed a partnership that they named D. N. & E. Walter. Concurrently, two other brothers, Herman and Moritz, started a separate retail business, Walter Brothers, in Portland, Oregon. The businesses merged in 1865 and later incorporated in California as D. N. & E. Walter & Co. in 1896.
D. N. & E. Walter & Co. grew in its first fifty years, weathering the 1906 earthquake and fire, and several relocations of the retail and factory locations. In 1919, the Walter family decided to discontinue the original retail emphasis in favor of wholesale floor coverings. At that time, D. N. & E. Walter & Co.’s corporate headquarters was moved to 562 Mission Street, San Francisco. A carpet mill and additional wholesale branches were developed in the 1930s and 1940s in Spokane, Salt Lake City, Fresno, San Diego, and Los Angeles.
As the founding generation of the six local brothers died, the second and third generations took on leadership. In the late 1960s, the family liquidated the wholesale distribution business and sold Walter Carpet Mills. The Walter investment team soon redeployed the capital from the liquidation and sale into the financial markets and the remaining commercial real estate holdings in San Francisco and Southern California. A second Walter business, 562 Mission Street, LLC, was created in the late 1990s to manage and operate the parcels known as 562 Mission Street, the long-time corporate headquarters near the corner of Mission and Second Streets.
Today, the remaining Walter companies are owned by fourth, fifth and sixth generation Walter descendants. The family continues to pool and invest the capital generated by the original dry goods operating businesses begun in the mid-1850s. Current investments include portfolios of global security holdings, and value-added commercial office and industrial real estate. The Walter executive committee manages by building value for its investor group, creating a constructive work environment for the tenants of the commercial buildings, and positively impacting the neighborhoods where the real estate is located.