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Richard Morris Hunt

Architect and designer, Richard Morris Hunt (1827-95) believed that modern architecture should draw upon the best aspects of the past. The mixing and matching of styles became a major trend in late 19th century architecture. 

As the first American to attend and graduate from the Ecole des Beaux Arts, Hunt became the builder for the rich during the Gilded Age. Since there were no financial obstacles such as income tax during this period in American history, wealthy Americans like the Vanderbilts could purchase the luxuries of Europe and enjoy huge vacation "cottages" on sites that expanded for acres. 

According to his wife, Hunt and she sailed for Europe in the spring of 1861 and returned to America in the fall of 1862.
Hunt, as a member of the Committee of Fine Arts to the Paris Exposition of 1867, visited France during the spring and summer of that year. (See Catherine Clinton Howland Hunt, "The R. M. Hunt Papers, 1828-1895," ed. Alan Burnham, MS, Avery Library, Columbia University, 69-70, 104.)

The works of the Gilded Age are evident in the architecture of Richard Morris Hunt and masterfully executed in the three mansions built for the shipping and railroad entrepreneurs and their heirs, the Vanderbilts.  These three mansions are:
5th Avenue's Hunting Lodge, the Marble House, and the Breakers

5th Avenue's Hunting Lodge

Some of the most prominent mansions were built for the members of the wealthy Vanderbilt family including the New York City home of William K. Vanderbilt which was called 5th Avenue's Hunting Lodge and was built from 1877-81. While it is no longer standing, the mansion was located at 660 Fifth Avenue and was constructed in a single style from the past--the elite, royal chateau style. The home was vertically oriented with classical detailing and placed on a major tract of land for an urban dwelling. While the mansion shows great wealth and grandeur from the outside, it is an impressive example of wealth on the inside too. Hunt makes certain that the Vanderbilt home is decorated in every spot with dominating ornament. 

Links: (Boston Collage)


George Browne Post

An architect, died November 28, 1913. He was born December 15, 1837 in New York City. He studied civil engineering at New York University and received his C. E. degree in 1858. He studied architecture with Richard M. Hunt and in 1860 formed a partnership with Charles D. Gambrill. Some of the buildings designed by him are the New York Cotton Exchange, New York Produce Exchange, New York Stock Exchange, College of the City of New York, Pulitzer Building, Wisconsin State Capitol, Manufacture and Liberal Arts Building at Chicago Exposition, and the residences of Cornelius Vanderbilt and Collis P. Huntington. He was acknowledged in his lifetime as the ‘father of the tall building in New York




Daniel Hudson Burnham   

Daniel H. Burnham (1846-1912) was one of the earliest modern city planners and, with his partner, John Wellborn Root, the architect of the first American skyscrapers. At his death in 1912, Frank Lloyd Wright eulogized, "(Burnham) was not a creative architect, but he was a great man."

Daniel Hudson Burnham  gained his early architectural experience with William Le Baron Jenney, the so-called "father of the skyscraper."

In 1873, Burnham formed a partnership with John Wellborn Root (1850-1891) that produced such commissions as the Kent House, Masonic Temple, Monadnock Building, Reliance, Rookery, St. Gabriel's Church, and the Union Stock Yard Gate.  The Masonic Temple has been demolished.

He directed  the construction of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition that inspired the City Beautiful Movement, and created urban plans for San Francisco, Washington, DC. Chicago.

Links: (Chicago Landmarks)



William Le Baron Jenney

William Le Baron Jenney (1832-1907) served as an engineer in the Civil War, where he designed fortifications at Corinth, Shiloh, and Vicksburg. He came to Chicago in 1867, forming the firm of Jenney, Schermerhorn and Bogart. Together with landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, Jenney's firm helped develop Riverside, Illinois, the nation's first planned "railroad suburb."

Links: (Chicago Landmarks)



R.H. Robertson

Robertson had extensive experience with the design of buildings for charitable and religious institutions, including the YWCA at 7 East 15th Street and the related Margaret Louisa Home at 14-16 East 16th Street (both in the LadiesÕ Mile Historic District) and the Academy of Medicine on West 43rd Street (demolished).

American Tract Society  Building, 150 Nassau Street (a.k.a. 144-152 Nassau Street and 2-6 Spruce Street), Manhattan. Built 1894-95; Robert Henderson Robertson, architect.

Park Row or Ivins Syndicate Building
Height: 386 feet (118 meters) to cornice
Original owners: William Mills Ivins, head of investment syndicate
Architect: R.H. Robertson
Constructed from 1896-99

Fire Station No. 55, 363 Broome Street (between Mott and Elizabeth). Ornate Renaissance Revival structure dating from 1898. Designed by R.H. Robertson.

Links: (New York Architecture)



Carl Fehmer

Fehmer was born in Germany.When his father dies  his mother came with their children  to America in 1852. He designed the architectural work for the Massachusetts General Hospital until he was forced to retire. During the Civil War, Fehmer served in the militia at Fort Independence .Carl Fehmer was partner with Emerson  from 1864 to 1873

Fehmer was a member of the Boston Society of Architects. Fehmer designed the Shuman Corner, the Telephone Building, and Oliver Ames Residence.

Fehmer died in Boston in 1917.


- Wikipedia Fehmer -

- Boston architects  Fehmer -



Peabody & Stearns

Partnership 1870-1917 of Robert Swain Peabody (1845-1917) & John Goddard Stearns (1843-1917)

At Fisher Hill, Tour One Courtesy, Brookline Preservation Commission we can read (see pdf):

The largest estate on the south side of the hill was built by dry goods magnate Joseph H.White in 1881-82 (541-45 Boylston St.). White's house and carriage barn, though still standing, are surrounded by recent development. It was designed by the prominent Boston firm of Peabody & Stearns and was pictured in L'Architecture Americaine. published in Paris in 1886. Frederick Law Olmsted was hired to plan the landscaping for this estate, although little evidence remains of his work.

Ir refers to this picture.




Wheelock & Clay (Otis Leonard Wheelock (1816-c1886) & William W Clay) 

Some of them were in Chicago in 1893 World Fair: (Underlined)





The Vanderbilts 

Vanderbilt, Cornelius, 17941877, American railroad magnate, b. Staten Island, N.Y. As a boy he ferried freight and passengers from Staten Island to Manhattan, and he soon gained control of most of the ferry lines and other short lines in the vicinity of New York City. He further expanded his shipping lines and came to be known as Commodore Vanderbilt. In 1851, when the gold rush to California was at its height, Vanderbilt opened a shipping line from the East Coast to California, including land transit across Nicaragua along the route of the proposed Nicaragua Canal. 

After the outbreak of the Civil War, he entered the railroad field, and by 1867 he had gained control of the New York Central RR. Although his efforts to gain control of the Erie RR proved unsuccessful, Vanderbilt vastly expanded his railroad empire and by 1873 connected Chicago with New York City by rail. He amassed a great fortune.

A son, William Henry Vanderbilt,. 1821–85, b. New Brunswick, N.J., succeeded Cornelius Vanderbilt as president of the New York Central RR and augmented the family fortune. He gave liberally to Vanderbilt Univ., to the College of Physicians and Surgeons , and to various other institutions.

Cornelius Vanderbilt,. 1843–99, b. Staten Island, N.Y., was a son of William H. Vanderbilt. He took over the family holdings and helped to establish   the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

Cornelius Vanderbilt II  was a financier and philanthropist, and president of the New York and Harlem Railroad from 1886 until his death. He commissioned architect George B. Post to build a mansion at Fifth Avenue and 57th Street. John La Farge supervised the decoration of the dining and watercolor rooms. The sculptural decorations were by Saint-Gaudens, who was assisted in the project by his brother Louis, Philip Martiny, Frederick W. MacMonnies, and others. 

Another son of William H. Vanderbilt was William Kissam Vanderbilt,. 1849–1920, b. Staten Island, N.Y. He was a yachtsman, and his wife was a well-known society leader. The fourth son of William H. Vanderbilt was George Washington Vanderbilt,. 1862–1914, b. Staten Island, N.Y. He engaged in numerous philanthropies.

Links: (Wikipedia Vanderbilt Family) (Wikipedia Cornelius Vanderbilt) (Wikipedia William Henry Vanderbilt)



Samuel Tilden 

Samuel Jones Tilden, (1814-1886), American political leader, who as the DEMOCRATIC presidential candidate in 1876 lost the most controversial ELECTION in American history.

Tilden was born in New Lebanon, N. Y., on Feb. 9, 1814. Precocious but sickly, he was sporadically schooled and tutored. In 1838 he entered law school at New York University, and in 1841 he was admitted to the bar. He became an outstanding corporation lawyer, who mastered the complexities of reorganizing and refinancing railroads. He amassed a fortune in fees, which he augmented by shrewd investments in railroads, iron mines, and real estate

Samuel Tilden  commissioned Calvert Vaux (Frederick Law Olmsted's collaborator on Central Park) to combine and remodel two adjacent row houses facing the park. A proponent of the High Victorian Gothic style, which was influenced by Ruskin's theories on architecture, Vaux transformed the building's facade into a complex, asymmetrical composition with historical details, polychromy and botanical ornament. Sculptural busts of Shakespeare, Milton, Franklin, Goethe and Dante project from the facade and allude to Tilden's library--books that would eventually become part of the New York Public Library's core collection. Today, the building houses the National Arts Club




Oliver Ames

Was born in North Easton. He was Governor of Massachussetts.His father was a founding member of Massachusetts' Republican Part. He was  president of several banks, railroads, and other companies. Ames promoted many buildings in Massachussets with the best architects, as H.H. Richardson.. Ames was three times Governor and he declined to be elected a fourth time.


Massachussetts gov

Ames Wikipedia



Augustus Byram

Byram was one of the pioneer mining operators of the Far  West. He went to California during the gold excitement of 1849. He became owner of big mining properties , such as “ The Great Silver Horn Silver Mine “ in Utah. Hew died in 1901






Herter Brothers

Trained in his native Germany, Gustave Herter first rose to prominence as a cabinet maker in New York City. Soon after being joined by his younger brother Christian in 1864, the renamed firm, "Herter Brothers", began to create entire decorative schemes of astonishing opulence for the wealthiest families in America.
The Herter Brothers became the best-known interior furnishings firm in New York during the second half of the nineteenth century. German-born and trained, Gustave (1830-1898) and Christian Herter (1840-1883) opened their New York business in 1865. The Herter Brothers firm established its reputation for exquisite marquetry (decorative inlay) by furnishing the mansions of the New York elite in the popular Renaissance Revival style. Following the Civil War, several revival styles became fashionable in furniture design. The Renaissance Revival style was based loosely on the architecture of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Italy, and often incorporated Greek, Moorish, Egyptian, and other historical motifs.
Their client list reads like a Who’s Who of Gilded Age millionaires: Vanderbilt, Morgan, and Gould of New York; Crocker, Stanford, and Huntington of San Francisco; Potter Palmer of Chicago. --> Metropolitan Museum Preserving a Herter Brothers Side Chair. The chairs they designed to Vanderbilt houses and Oliver Ames.





William H. Vanderbilt House

William H. Vanderbilt purchased the entire blockfront on the west side of Fifth Avenue between 51st and 52nd streets in 1879, having recently inherited a fortune from his father, Cornelius Vanderbilt. Architects John B. Snook and Charles Atwood designed twin houses connected by a glass atrium and entrance vestibule, and the famed Herter Brothers decorated the houses with such extravagance that Artistic Houses devoted 17 pages to its interiors upon their completion in 1883.

W.H. Vanderbilt and his wife lived in the southern house, while their two daughters and sons-in-law occupied the other.

The plans were finished in December 1879 and were probably drawn up by Charles Atwood, an architect on the Herter Brothers staff.

The W.H. Vanderbilt house was part of a complex on Fifth Avenue, taking up an entire city block, that also contained residences for the families of his two daughters, Mrs. Douglas Sloane and Mrs. Eliot Fitch Shepard.

The structure, which Vanderbilt lived in for only three years until his death in 1885, took two years to build and involved an estimated 600 to 700 workers.



Cornelius Vanderbilt II House  

The home of Cornelius Vanderbilt II and his wife, Alice Gwynne, was the largest of the several Vanderbilt family residences that dotted Fifth Avenue. The imposing French Château–style mansion was one of only three houses on Fifth Avenue to take up an entire block-front (the other two were the Carnegie and Frick residences).

Originally built in 1879–1883, the house was enlarged and redesigned just ten years later by architect George B. Post in consultation with his former teacher, Richard Morris Hunt.

 Its grand facades graced Fifth Avenue between 57th and 58th streets, and the length of Grand Army Plaza along 58th Street. No less fashionable than the mansion it replaced, the Bergdorf Goodman department store was erected on this site in 1928.





The Vanderbilt Houses

Published May 1, 1888

"The Vanderbilt Houses" is an article from The Decorator and Furnisher, Volume 12.

View more articles from The Decorator and Furnisher.

Here we should note that it is but one of five magnificent houses recently built by Mr. Vanderbilt'and his two sons on Fifth Avenue, between Fifty-first

and Fifty-seventh Streets. The last two^are widely diverse in style and plan. That of Mr. W. K. Vanderbilt was' designed by Mr. R. M. Hunt, brother of the late William M. Hunt, the well known painter. The material, a light gray limestone, would be more agreeable if of a warmer tint; but it has a fine grain and is easily carved. The style is of the Transitional, or Later Gothic, and without

imitating suggests the yet extant buildings of that period. The architect's object has been two-fold.: -to achieve a. pyramidal effect by making his lines converge to the central gable on the Fifth Avenue side; and while lavishly employing decorative sculpture on his walls, so. as to mass his ornamentation as to produce a number of wide unbroken spaces, thereby gaining in breadth and concentration of effect.


The residence Of Mr, Cornelius Vanderbilt was designed by  Mr. George Post, and was suggested by the seventeenth century French chateau, with an harmonious interfusion of ideas adapted from- the Flemish and Jacobean schools. The material employed is red brick, with facings of gray limestone. The combination of

color thus secured is warm and agreeable?by no means an un important feature; in a climate like that of New Yorkr' The stonework and carving are elaborate in parte; but as the lines accentuated' on Either-side by-"a,, Jargergatble" or,: dormer .window, : not altogether  be in harmony w^h the other forms?are simple, the design must studied to be fully -appreciated. The interior adornments, by Messrs. Colroan & Tiffany, are after the more recent fashion of decorative art,

The residence of Mr. William ST Vanderbilt, the father, with , the  adjoining .house built for his daughters, are, however, the most important of the group, both in respect of dimensions and of general design.. The plan of these houses was made by Mr. Vanderbilt himself. The decoration, including the furnishing, was done by the Messrs. Herter Brothers, of New York, and the construction was superintended by Mr. Snooks. The material. employed is the rich brown freestone so common in the elegant. mansions of New York.


The library table is one of the finest pieces of cabinet-work ever turned out in America. It was designed and carved in the establishment of the Messrs. Herter, and is of black walnut, highly polished, and inlaid with mother of-pearl. The ceiling is a most interesting feature, and serves to relieve the heaviness of the array of monotinted woods. It is of wood carved in rustic fashion in crossbars, gilded with dead gold.



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