Architect Julius A. Schweinfurth was born in Auburn in 1858, the second of four sons of German immigrants Charles J. and Katherine Ammon Schweinfurth. The three eldest sons all became architects of some renown: Charles in Cleveland, Julius in Boston, and Albert in San Francisco. Julius was not only a talented architect and draftsman, but also a skilled artist and designer. He produced many etchings, drawings, and watercolor studies throughout his life, as well as bookplates and other examples of graphic design. Though he spent most of his adult life in the Boston area, he did design several buildings in Auburn, including the Bradley Chapel at Fort Hill Cemetery; the former Thomas Mott Osborne House at 120 South Street, Auburn; and the former James Street school, which was located on the site of the Auburn Post Office property. His most notable buildings include several dormitories on the Wellesley College Campus in Wellesley, MA.

Julius A. Schweinfurth died in 1931. He left a trust stipulating that after the death of his wife and heirs, and when the trust reached $1,000,000 in value, it was to be given to Auburn for the purpose of building and endowing an art center. The Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center was incorporated in 1975, and the Art Center opened to the public in 1981.