Born in New York City to Dutch immigrants, Ginter relocated to Richmond, Virginia, in 1842 when he was eighteen years old. After briefly working in a hardware store, he established and maintained a successful linen import business until the Civil War, during which he served as a commissary for the Confederacy. After the war, Ginter moved back to New York City and worked in banking until the Panic of 1873. He then returned to Richmond and founded Allen & Ginter, a tobacco manufacturing company that merged with four other major tobacco businesses in 1890 to form the American Tobacco Company, where he served on the Board of Directors.
In the 1890s, Ginter developed real estate in the Richmond area, acquiring vast tracts of land in what is today known as the Northside and in Henrico County. Inspired by the suburbs that he saw while travelling in Australia, Ginter sought to replicate them in Richmond. He financed developments such as Brookland Parkway and the Ginter Park streetcar suburb, consulting with F.L. Olmsted & Co. on the design of the former. Ginter also hired the renowned architecture firm Carrère and Hastings to design the Jefferson Hotel, which became a symbol of Richmond’s prosperity and was generally regarded as one of the finest hotels in the United States when it was completed in 1895. In 1897 Ginter died of complications from diabetes at Westbrook, his estate in Richmond’s Northside, and was buried in Hollywood Cemetery.