During the 1870s to the 1920s, the affluent
Vanderbilt family commissioned the very best
and most expensive architectural and
interior design firms to build a seriess of
townhouses in New York and mansions in the
East Coast. Most of the Vanderbilt houses,
because of their unequalled historic beauty
and breathtaking magnificence, are now
designated as National Historic Landmarks.
The architects of the Vanderbilt homes
include Richard Morris Hunt, Charles B.
Atwood, George B. Post, Addison Mizner,
Warren and Wetmore, McKim, Mead and White,
Carrere and Hastings, and Horrace Trumbauer.
The wealthy American-Anglo Vanderbilt
Family had Dutch roots. They were probably
the most affluent of families during the
1800s when Cornelius Vanderbilt founded
shipping and railroad empires. Cornelius
Vanderbilt is regarded as the tenth
wealthiest person in history.
|His descendants spent unbelievable sums
of money on the construction of lavish homes
while he himself preferred more modest
Frederick William Vanderbilt
commissioned McKim, Mead and White to build Hyde Park in New
York in 1896. Hyde Park is now known as the Vanderbilt
Mansion National Historic Site. Frederick William also built
the Rough Point mansion in Newport. William Kissam
Vanderbilt had architect Richard Morris Hunt design three
homes for him. They are his townhouse at Fifth Avenue, New
York; the Idle Hour mansion in Oakdale, Long Island, New
York; and the Marble House in Newport, Rhode Island. In
1910, William Kissam II hired Warren and Wetmore to build
Eagleís Nest in Centerport, New York. George Washington
Vanderbilt II again commissioned Richard Morris Hunt to
build Bitmore in Asheville, North Carolina.
It is the
largest residence in the entire United States. Also designed
by Hunt is Cornelius Vanderbilt IIís Breakers mansion in
Newport, Rhode Island. He has another house in New York
which was built by George B. Post. Florence Vanderbilt, wife
of Hamilton Twombly, looked to McKim, Mead and White to
build Florham in Covent Station, New Jersey. Florham now
serves as the Administration Building of Farleigh Dickinson
University. Emily Thorn Vanderbilt, William Douglas Sloans
wife, was responsible for the construction of the Elm Court
in Lenox, Massachusetts. In all of America, it is the
largest residential example of shingle-style architecture.
In 1919, the Elm Court Talks were held at Elm Court. These
talks led to the founding of The League of Nations and to
the conception of the Treaty of Versailles.
The Vanderbilts were the leaders of the elite society,
but during the mid 1900s, the familyís high standing
suffered a major collapse, and the Fall of the House of
Vanderbilt began. Their Fifth Avenue mansions were
demolished, and the other Vanderbilt houses were sold. Many
of the Gilded Age mansions in Newport are now managed as
museums by the Preservation Society of Newport County.