George Washington Vanderbilt II
|Born||November 14, 1862|
New Dorp, Staten Island, New York
|Died||March 6, 1914 51) (aged|
|Known for||Biltmore Estate|
|Children||Cornelia Stuyvesant Vanderbilt|
|Parent(s)|| William Henry Vanderbilt |
Maria Louisa Kissam
George Washington Vanderbilt II (November 14, 1862 – March 6, 1914) was an art collector and member of the prominent Vanderbilt family, which amassed a huge fortune through steamboats, railroads, and various business enterprises.He built a 250-room mansion, the largest privately owned home in the United States, which he named Biltmore Estate.
George W. Vanderbilt was the youngest child of William Henry Vanderbilt and Maria Louisa Kissam. Though there is no evidence to suggest that he referred to himself using a numerical suffix, various sources have called him both George Washington Vanderbilt II and III. The Biltmore recognizes him as George W. Vanderbilt III, because he had two uncles by that name, the first of whom died at the age of four.
As the youngest of William's children, George was said to be his father's favorite and his constant companion. Relatives described him as slender, dark-haired, and pale-complexioned. Shy and introverted, his interests ran to philosophy, books, and the collection of paintings in his father's large art gallery. He acquired a private library of more than twenty thousand volumes. In addition to frequent visits to Paris, France, where several Vanderbilts kept homes, George Vanderbilt traveled extensively and became fluent in several foreign languages.
His father owned elegant mansions in New York City and Newport, and an 800-acre (3.2 km2) country estate on Long Island. When William died in 1885 of a stroke, he left a fortune of approximately $200 million, the bulk of which was split between his two elder sons, Cornelius Vanderbilt II and William K. Vanderbilt. George W. Vanderbilt had inherited $2 million from his grandfather and received another million dollars on his 21st birthday from his father. Upon his father's death, he inherited $5 million more, as well as the income from a $5 million trust fund.
He ran the family farm at New Dorp and Woodland Beach, now the neighborhood of Midland Beach, on Staten Island, New York, where he was born, then lived with his mother in Manhattan until his own townhouse at 9 West 53rd Street was completed in 1887. The Vanderbilt family business was operated by his elder brothers. This left him time for intellectual pursuits. In 1891, he joined the New York Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. The next year Vanderbilt gifted his private gallery on 58th Street in Manhattan to the American Fine Arts Society.During the early 1900s, the Vanderbilts developed a pair of residences at 645 and 647 Fifth Avenue. George was the first owner of number 647.
Living in one or another of his family residences well into adulthood, Vanderbilt decided to construct his own country mansion and estate in 1888. For this purpose, he acquired 125,000 acres of woodland in North Carolina, employing the architect Richard Morris Hunt to design a limestone house modeled on the Chateau de Blois and other chateaux of the Loire Valley. With up to four acres of floor space, this is believed to be the largest domestic dwelling ever constructed in the United States.
At Biltmore, Vanderbilt led the life of a country gentleman. Having a great interest in horticulture and agriscience, he oversaw experiments in scientific farming, animal bloodline breeding, and silviculture (forestry). His goal was to run Biltmore as a self-sustaining estate. In 1892, Frederick Law Olmsted suggested that Vanderbilt hire Gifford Pinchot to manage the forests on the estate. According to Pinchot, who went on to be the first Chief of the United States Forest Service, Biltmore was the first professionally managed forest in the U.S. It was also the site of the Biltmore School of Forestry, the first such school in North America, established in 1898 by Dr. Carl A. Schenck.
Vanderbilt was known for his generosity toward his employees at Biltmore. Every year, he held a Christmas celebration for their children, complete with decorated tree and presents for each child, even those who could not make it to the party. He also paid all the expenses of the Cathedral of All Souls, an Episcopal cathedral he'd built and was a parishioner of, located directly across from the Biltmore Estate's main gate in Biltmore Village (the model village he had built for those who had worked to build the Estate or were employed on the Estate), so that the church's weekly collection could go directly to charity and outreach.
On June 1, 1898, Vanderbilt married Edith Stuyvesant Dresser (January 17, 1873 – December 21, 1958) at the American Cathedral in Paris, France. George and Edith had one daughter together, Cornelia Stuyvesant Vanderbilt (August 22, 1900 - February 7, 1976).
In 1912, George and Edith booked passage on the doomed Titanic, but they changed their plans at the last minute via telephone, instead sailing on her sister ship, the Olympic. The Olympic left port before Titanic, and the Vanderbilts arrived in New York before the sinking. Accounts vary, but it has been suggested that a family member (reportedly his wife's well-travelled sister) warned the pair from travelling on Titanic, saying, "so many things can go wrong on a maiden voyage".According to Vanderbilt family history, George's mother had a premonition about Titanic and advised George from boarding. It's possible both warnings were acknowledged and heeded. In any case, Edith, in a letter to her friend Emily Ford Skeel (sister of Paul Leicester Ford), explained: "For no reason whatsoever we decided to sail on the Olympic and had only 18 hours to get ready in. We were homesick, and simply felt we must get home, and changed our ship, as I say, at the Eleventh hour!" Unfortunately, however, a servant to the Vanderbilts, Frederick Wheeler, perished aboard Titanic in second class, as, due to the close timing of their switch, the Vanderbilts were forced to leave most of their luggage aboard Titanic, and so Wheeler retained his ticket to travel with it.
He died due to complications following an appendectomy in Washington, D.C. on March 6, 1914.He was interred in the Vanderbilt family mausoleum at the Moravian Cemetery in New Dorp in Staten Island, New York.
After his death, Vanderbilt's widow sold approximately 86,000 acres (350 km2) of the Biltmore property to the United States Forest Service at $5 an acre, fulfilling her husband's wishes to create the core of Pisgah National Forest. She sold additional land as finances demanded; today, about 8,000 acres (32 km2) remain. Edith Dresser Vanderbilt later married Peter Goelet Gerry (1879–1957), a United States Senator from Rhode Island.
The Vanderbilts' only child, Cornelia Stuyvesant Vanderbilt, married a British aristocrat, the Hon. John Francis Amherst Cecil (a descendant of William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley) in 1924. Their sons, George and William, eventually inherited the property. George Cecil, the elder of the two sons, chose to inherit the majority of the estate's land and the Biltmore Farms Company, which was more profitable than the house at the time. The younger son, William Cecil, was thus left with Biltmore House, and he is credited with preserving the chateau which (though still privately owned) is open to the public.
Gifford Pinchot was an American forester and politician. He served as the 4th Chief of the U.S. Division of Forestry, as the 1st head of the United States Forest Service, and as the 28th Governor of Pennsylvania. He was a member of the Republican Party for most of his life, though he joined the Progressive Party for a brief period.
William Henry "Billy" Vanderbilt was an American businessman and philanthropist. He was the eldest son of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, an heir to his fortune and a prominent member of the Vanderbilt family. Vanderbilt became the richest American after he took over his father's fortune in 1877 until his own death in 1885, passing on a substantial part of the fortune to his wife and children, particularly to his sons Cornelius II and William. He inherited nearly $100 million from his father. The fortune had doubled when he died less than nine years later.
The Vanderbilt family is an American family of Dutch origin who gained prominence during the Gilded Age. Their success began with the shipping and railroad empires of Cornelius Vanderbilt, and the family expanded into various other areas of industry and philanthropy. Cornelius Vanderbilt's descendants went on to build grand mansions on Fifth Avenue in New York City; luxurious "summer cottages" in Newport, Rhode Island; the palatial Biltmore House in Asheville, North Carolina; and various other opulent homes.
Frederick William Vanderbilt 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.
Biltmore Estate is a historic house museum and tourist attraction in Asheville, North Carolina. Biltmore House, the main residence, is a Châteauesque-style mansion built for George Washington Vanderbilt II between 1889 and 1895 and is the largest privately owned house in the United States, at 178,926 square feet (16,622.8 m2) of floor space. Still owned by George Vanderbilt's descendants, it remains one of the most prominent examples of Gilded Age mansions.
Peter Goelet Gerry was an American lawyer and politician who served in the United States House of Representatives and later, as a U.S. Senator from Rhode Island. He is the only U.S. Senator in American history to lose re-election and later reclaim his Senate seat from the person who had defeated him.
Edith Stuyvesant Dresser Gerry was an American philanthropist and wife of George Washington Vanderbilt II and Peter Goelet Gerry, a United States Senator from Rhode Island.
Colonel Lord William Cecil was a British army officer and royal courtier.
The Biltmore Company is an American firm that owns and operates Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. The company is owned by the family of William Amherst Vanderbilt Cecil, the younger grandson of George Washington Vanderbilt II.
William Amherst Vanderbilt Cecil was the operator of the Biltmore Estate through his company, The Biltmore Company.
George Henry Vanderbilt Cecil was an American businessman who was the owner and chairman of Biltmore Farms.
Founded in 1897 by George Washington Vanderbilt II, Biltmore Farms has evolved from one of the Southeast's largest independent dairy producer to a community development firm. Son of William Henry Vanderbilt and grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt, George W. Vanderbilt pioneered sustainable land-use practices when he moved from New York to the Southern Appalachian Mountains near Asheville, North Carolina, where he built his famed Biltmore Estate, America's largest residence.
Carl Alwyn Schenck was a pioneering forestry educator in North America, known for his contributions as the forester for George W. Vanderbilt's Biltmore Estate, and the founder of the Biltmore Forest School, the first practical forestry school in the United States, in 1898, near Brevard, NC.
The Biltmore Forest School was the first school of forestry in North America. The school of "practical forestry" was founded by Carl A. Schenck in 1898 on George W. Vanderbilt's Biltmore Estate near Asheville, North Carolina. The school grounds are now part of Pisgah National Forest in Transylvania County, North Carolina.
Richard Howland Hunt was an American architect and member of the notable Hunt family of Vermont, who worked in partnership with his brother Joseph Howland Hunt in New York City, as Hunt & Hunt. The brothers were sons of the first American Beaux-Arts architect, Richard Morris Hunt. Richard practiced in his father's office until the elder Hunt's death in July 1895, and continued, not without initial resistance on the part of trustees, to carry out his father's designs for the central block of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. After a brief interval, the brothers formed a partnership in 1901 that was only terminated by Joseph's death in 1924.
Cornelia Stuyvesant Vanderbilt Cecil Bulkely-Johnson Goodsir was an American born heiress and member of the Vanderbilt family who inherited the Biltmore Estate. She was known for her eccentric behavior.
Vivian Francis Bulkeley-Johnson was the aide-de-camp to Victor Cavendish, 9th Duke of Devonshire, the Governor General of Canada from 1916 to 1918. He served in the offices of the Imperial War Cabinet in World War I from 1918 to 1919, and in the Air Ministry from 1919 to 1922.
John Francis Amherst Cecil was the first secretary of the British Embassy, Washington, known for his marriage to Cornelia Stuyvesant Vanderbilt.
Major George Warren Dresser was an American soldier and civil engineer who was prominent in New York and Newport society.
Cornelia Elizabeth Bryce Pinchot, also known as “Leila Pinchot,” was a 20th-century American conservationist, Progressive politician, and women’s rights activist who played a key role in the improvement of Grey Towers, the Pinchot family estate in Milford, Pennsylvania, which was donated to the U.S. Forest Service in 1963 and then designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1966. A maternal great-granddaughter of Peter Cooper, founder of Cooper Union, and daughter of U.S. Congressman and Envoy Lloyd Stephens Bryce (1851–1917), she was the wife of Gifford Pinchot (1865-1946), the renowned conservationist and two-time Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and was also a close friend of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt.
George Washington Vanderbilt of New York died suddenly this afternoon at his Washington residence, 1,612 K Street. With him at the time were Mrs. Vanderbilt and their thirteen-year-old daughter, Miss Cornelia S. Vanderbilt.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to George Washington Vanderbilt II .|