Florence Adele Vanderbilt Twombly

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Florence Adele Vanderbilt Twombly
Mrs. Hamilton McKown Twombly (Florence Adele Vanderbilt).jpg
Mrs. Hamilton McKown Twombly by John Singer Sargent
Florence Adele Vanderbilt

January 8, 1854
DiedApril 11, 1952(1952-04-11) (aged 98)
(m. 1877;died 1910)
ChildrenAlice Twombly
Florence Adele Twombly
Ruth Twombly
Hamilton McKown Twombly, Jr.
Parent(s) William Henry Vanderbilt
Maria Louisa Kissam
Family Vanderbilt

Florence Adele Vanderbilt Twombly (January 8, 1854 – April 11, 1952) was an American heiress and a member of the prominent Vanderbilt family. [1] She and her husband built Florham, a gilded age estate in Madison, New Jersey.


Early life

Florence was born on Staten Island in New York City on January 8, 1854. She was a daughter of William Henry Vanderbilt (1821–1885) and Maria Louisa Kissam (1821–1896). [2] Her siblings were Cornelius II, Margaret Louisa, William Kissam, Frederick William, Eliza Osgood, Emily Thorn, and George Washington II. [3]

Her paternal grandfather was the Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794–1877), of whom she was the last surviving grandchild when she died aged 98 in 1952. [4]


Twombly townhouse - 5th Avenue, NYC 5th avenue - 54th NY 1885 Albert Levy.jpg
Twombly townhouse - 5th Avenue, NYC

Florence was known for her many elaborate homes, including her townhouse at 684 Fifth Avenue in New York City that was designed by John B. Snook and given as a gift from her father, William Henry Vanderbilt. The home was sold to John D. Rockefeller Jr. in 1925, [5] and has since been demolished. [2]

Her Vinland, a Romanesque "cottage" in Newport, Rhode Island built in 1882 for tobacco heiress Catharine Lorillard Wolfe by Peabody & Stearns, purchased by the Twomblys in 1896 and greatly enlarged. Interiors by Ogden Codman. [2] Now part of Salve Regina University and called McAuley Hall. [6]

Florham, an 800-acre estate in Florham Park, New Jersey designed by McKim, Mead & White in 1897. [2] Part of it including the manor house now belongs to Farleigh Dickinson University. [7] [8] At Florham, Florence had a fleet of fifteen cars, including six maroon Rolls Royces. [9]

A second townhouse was a 70-room house located at 1 East 71st Street, New York City that was designed by Whitney Warren and has also since been demolished. [10]

Personal life

In 1877, Florence married Hamilton McKown Twombly (1849-1910). [2] He was the son of Alexander Hamilton Twombly (1804–1870) and Caroline (née McKown) Twombly (1821–1881). [11] Together, they had four children:

Her husband died in 1910 after an extended illness. [19] [20] [21] According to an obituary, his death was from "cancer and a broken heart" over the death of his son. [22] [23] She died April 11, 1952 in New York City, having outlived her husband by 42 years. [1] She is in interred at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx. [4]


Through her daughter Florence, she was the grandmother of William A. M. Burden II (1906–1984), [24] a banker [25] who served as U.S. Ambassador to Belgium from 1959 to 1961, [26] [27] and Shirley Carter Burden (1908–1989), a prominent photographer. [28]

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  1. 1 2 "Ms. Twombly Dies In Home Here at 9:41. Daughter of W. H. Vanderbilt Was Last Surviving Grandchild of Commodore Vanderbilt". New York Times . Retrieved 2015-09-13.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Hamilton Twombly, Capitalist, Dead, The New York Times , January 12, 1910
  3. MacDowell, Dorothy Kelly (1989). Commodore Vanderbilt and his family: a biographical account of the Descendants of Cornelius and Sophia Johnson Vanderbilt. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin . Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  4. 1 2 "200 at Mrs. Twombly's Rites". The New York Times . 15 April 1952. Retrieved 19 September 2017.
  5. "ROCKEFELLER OWNS MOST OF A BLOCK; Latest Million Only Another to Keep Trade Away From His and Father's Homes". The New York Times . 30 December 1925. Retrieved 19 September 2017.
  6. "McAuley Hall". www.salve.edu. Salve Regina University . Retrieved 19 September 2017.
  7. Southern Methodist University: Robert Yarnall Richie Photograph Collection: Florence Vanderbilt and Hamilton McKown Twombly's Florham estate, Madison, NJ
  8. Farleigh Dickinson University: College at Florham: History of the Estate
  9. "Florham Campus: A History of the Estate". view2.fdu.edu. Fairleigh Dickinson University . Retrieved 26 April 2018.
  10. "2 MORE MANSIONS ON 5TH AVE. TO DIE; Former Twombly and Rice Homes at 71st St. Will Be Replaced by Apartment". The New York Times . 9 August 1957. Retrieved 19 September 2017.
  11. "H. M'K. TWOMBLY, CAPITALIST, DEAD; Brother-in-Law of W. K. Vanderbilt Never Recovered from Shock of His Son's Death. DIRECTOR OF MANY ROADS His Death Occurred at Florham Park, His Beautiful Estate and Model Farm, Near Morristown, N. J." The New York Times . January 12, 1910. Retrieved 24 August 2017.
  12. "DIED. Twombly". The New York Times . 1896. Retrieved 19 September 2017.
  13. "FUNERAL OF ALICE TWOMBLY; Many Dances and Entertainments Given Up on Account of Her Death". The New York Times . January 3, 1896. Retrieved 19 September 2017.
  14. "WORLD OF FASHION AT THE TWOMBLY WEDDING; William A.M. Burden Marries H. McK. Twombly's Daughter. FIFTH AVENUE IS CROWDED Ceremony at St. Thomas's Church -- Mr. and Mrs. Burden Will Go to the Far East on Honeymoon". The New York Times . 13 April 1904. Retrieved 19 September 2017.
  15. "W.A.M. BURDEN DIES OF STRANGE MALADY; Chronic Recurrent Fever the Only Name Physicians Can Give It -- No Remedy. AN ATHLETE AT HARVARD Married Miss Twombly, Granddaughter of the Late W.H. Vanderbilt, in 1904". The New York Times . 3 February 1909. Retrieved 19 September 2017.
  16. Times, Special To The New York (2 September 1954). "MISS RUTH TWOMBLY SUCCUMBS IN PARIS". The New York Times . Retrieved 24 August 2017.
  17. "H. M'K. TWOMBLY, JR., DROWNED IN SQUAM LAKE; Was Swimming Near Camp of Groton School Students. SEVERAL SAW HIM SINK Seized with Cramps He Disappeared Before Aid Could Reach Him -- The Body Recovered". The New York Times . 6 July 1906. Retrieved 19 September 2017.
  18. "YOUNG TWOMBLY'S FUNERAL.; Many Persons Prominent In Society Attend the Services". The New York Times . 10 July 1906. Retrieved 19 September 2017.
  19. "HAMILTON McK. TWOMBLY ILL.; Said to be Suffering from Kidney Trouble and a Nervous Breakdown". The New York Times . 3 December 1909. Retrieved 24 August 2017.
  20. Times, Special To The New York (5 December 1909). "H. McK. Twombly to Remain in Country". The New York Times . Retrieved 24 August 2017.
  21. "H. McKay Twombly Still Alive". The New York Times . 26 December 1909. Retrieved 24 August 2017.
  22. "H. McK. Twombly Dying. Might Not Live Till Daybreak, It Was Said at His Home Last Night". New York Times . December 25, 1909.
  23. "Twombly," Palisades Interstate Park Commission, Nov 2009
  24. Pace, Eric (11 October 1984). "WILLIAM BURDEN, EX-MUSEUM PRESIDENT, DIES". The New York Times . Retrieved 19 September 2017.
  25. "INVESTMENT FIRM FORMED; William A. M. Burden & Co. Plans to Handle Own Capital". The New York Times . 19 July 1949. Retrieved 19 September 2017.
  26. "Envoy in the Air Age; William Armistead Moale Burden". The New York Times . September 4, 1959. Retrieved 19 September 2017.
  27. Beaver, William S. (16 June 2002). "IN BUSINESS; Acres of Affordable Housing On Chappaqua's Drawing Board". The New York Times . Retrieved 19 September 2017.
  28. "Shirley Burden, 80, a Writer-Photographer". The New York Times . 5 June 1989. Retrieved 19 September 2017.