Frederick William Vanderbilt

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Frederick William Vanderbilt
Born(1856-02-02)February 2, 1856
DiedJune 29, 1938(1938-06-29) (aged 82)
Hyde Park, N.Y.
Resting place Moravian Cemetery
Alma mater Yale University
(m. 1878;died 1926)
Parent(s) William Henry Vanderbilt
Maria Louisa Kissam
Relatives Margaret Van Alen (niece)
Family Vanderbilt
F. W. Vanderbilt, ca. 1913, painted by Raymond Neilson, St. Anthony Hall collection. FWVanderbilt PaintedbyRaymondNeilson.JPG
F. W. Vanderbilt, ca. 1913, painted by Raymond Neilson, St. Anthony Hall collection.

Frederick William Vanderbilt (February 2, 1856 – June 29, 1938) was a member of the American Vanderbilt family. He was a director of the New York Central Railroad for 61 years, and also a director of the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad and of the Chicago and North Western Railroad. [1]


Early life

Vanderbilt was born on February 2, 1856 in New Dorp, Staten Island. He was the third son of eight children born to William Henry Vanderbilt (1821–1885) and Maria Louisa (née Kissam) Vanderbilt (1821–1896). [2] His siblings were Cornelius Vanderbilt II, who married Alice Claypoole Gwynne; Margaret Louisa Vanderbilt, who married Elliott Fitch Shepard; William Kissam Vanderbilt, who married Alva Erskine Smith and Anne Harriman Sands Rutherfurd; Emily Thorn Vanderbilt, who married William Douglas Sloane and Henry White; Florence Adele Vanderbilt, who married Hamilton McKown Twombly; Eliza Osgood Vanderbilt, who married William Seward Webb; and George Washington Vanderbilt II, who married Edith Stuyvesant Dresser. [2]

He was the grandson of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, who first created the Vanderbilt family wealth. Upon his grandfather's death in 1877, 95% of the $100 million estate was left to his father and his three brothers ($5 million to Cornelius, and $2 million apiece to William, Frederick, and George). [3]

In 1876, Vanderbilt graduated from Yale University's Sheffield Scientific School, to which he later donated $500,000 (equivalent to $14,775,000 today) in 1902. [4]


After graduating from Yale, he joined his father at the New York Central Railroad, like his brothers, working in one department after another to gain an understanding of the railroad business. After working for many years at the railroad, he devoted his time to travel and yachting. [5]

Vanderbilt was a director of 22 railroads, including New York Central Railroad, the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad, and the Chicago and North Western Railroad. [5]


Vanderbilt maintained residences in New York City (he lived for a while at 450 Fifth Avenue), Newport ("Rough Point"), Bar Harbor ("Sonogee"), Upper St. Regis Lake in the Adirondacks ("Pine Tree Point"), and a country palace in Hyde Park, New York ("Hyde Park") now preserved by the National Park Service as Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site. He built the nearby Howard Mansion and Carriage House for his nephew Thomas H. Howard in 1896. [6]

Vanderbilt was the owner of 10 East 40th Street in Manhattan, a prominent example of art deco architecture, until his death; he also owned the steam yachts Vedette, [7] Conqueror [8] [9] and Warrior. [10] He commissioned a number of campus buildings at Yale University by architect Charles C. Haight that survive to this day, from campus dormitories comprising the present-day Silliman College, to Vanderbilt Hall, [11] Phelps Hall, [12] the Mason, Sloane and Osborn laboratories, [13] and his secret society, St. Anthony Hall. [14]

Personal life

In 1878, Frederick married Louise Holmes Torrance (née Anthony) (1854–1926), the daughter of Charles Lee Anthony and Catherine (née Holmes) Anthony. Louise's father was a successful dry-goods merchant in New York City. Louise had been previously married, in 1868, to Frederick's cousin Alfred Torrance, before their divorce in 1877. [5]

Frederick Vanderbilt died in Hyde Park, New York on June 29, 1938. [5] [1] He was buried at Moravian Cemetery in New Dorp. [15] His estate was valued at $79,845,478 (equivalent to $1,387,902,279 today) upon his death. [16] He left $5,200,000 to the Sheffield Scientific School, [17] $3,900,000 to Vanderbilt University, $1,300,000 to the Salvation Army, and $650,000 to the New York Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor. [16] After his charitable donations, his niece, Mrs. Margaret Louise Van Alen (1876–1969), [18] was the chief heir of his estate, receiving his 5th Avenue home, Hyde Park home, and 25% of the residue of the estate. [19]

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  1. 1 2 "Frederick William Vanderbilt Dead". United Press . June 30, 1938. Retrieved 2010-08-23. Frederick William Vanderbilt, 82, died Wednesday at his estate here. For 61 years he was a director of the New York Central Railroad Co. He also was a director of Pittsburgh & Lake Erie and of Chicago & North Western.
  2. 1 2 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.
  3. "Cornelius Vanderbilt.; A Long And Useful Life Ended. The Renowned Commodore Dies After Eight Months' Illness His Remarkable Career As A Man of the World His Wealth Estimated At $100,000,000 Particulars of His Illness And Death" (PDF). The New York Times. January 5, 1877.
  4. "Frederick W. Vanderbilt Presents Land and a Dormitory to the Sheffield Scientific School" (PDF). The New York Times . July 8, 1902. Retrieved 2010-08-23.
  5. 1 2 3 4 "F. W. VANDERBILT DIES IN HYDE PARK; Grandson of Founder of the Family Fortune-61 Years on New York Central Board OWNER OF FAMOUS YACHTS Gifts to Hospitals, Colleges and Other Institutions Totaled Millions Director of 22 Railroads Gave Millions to Philanthropy In Cup Defender Syndicate Bought Napoleonic Furnishings" (PDF). The New York Times . 30 June 1938. Retrieved 3 May 2019.
  6. John A. Bonafide (January 1993). "National Register of Historic Places Registration: Howard Mansion and Carriage House". New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Archived from the original on 2012-10-16. Retrieved 2010-10-24.
  7. The American Yacht List. New York: Thomas Manning. 1886. p. 162.
  8. Lloyd's Register of American Yachts. New York: Lloyd's Register of Shipping. 1903. p. 68.
  9. The American Yacht List. New York: Thomas Manning. 1891. p. 290.
  10. Lloyd's Register (1906), p. 244.
  11. Archived September 14, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  12. "". Archived from the original on August 28, 2006.
  13. [ permanent dead link ]
  14. "". Archived from the original on February 27, 2007.
  15. "F. W. Vanderbilt Rites – Dr. Darlington Officiates at Private Services Here" (PDF). The New York Times . 2 July 1938. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  16. 1 2 "F.W. Vanderbilt Left $72,845,478 – Appraisal Shows Four Public Gifts Totaled $11.114,609, 42 1/2% of Residuary – Taxes Take $42,836,278 – City, State and Westchester Bonds and U.S. Steel Stock Formed Bulk of Estate" (PDF). The New York Times . 30 December 1941. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  17. "F. W. Vanderbilt Aids Yale – His Will Assures Erection of Another Residence Hall" (PDF). The New York Times . 29 October 1938. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  18. "Wealthy Newport Dowager, Mrs Brugiere, Dies at 92". Nashua Telegraph. 22 January 1969. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
  19. "Niece is Chief Heir of F. W. Vanderbilt – Mrs. Van Alen Gets 5th Ave. Property, Hyde Park Home and 25% of Residue – Two Universities Aided – Yale and Vanderbilt to Share-Charities Also Named for Parts of Estate. Charities Share in Estate Trusts to Go to Children" (PDF). The New York Times . 14 July 1938. Retrieved 18 September 2017.