Wordless Wednesday: Vanderbilts at the Royal Poinciana Hotel

From the State Library of Florida’s online Flickr collection

This photo was taken at the Royal Poinciana Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida March 14, 1896.  Pictured in the photograph are Left to Right: Colonel Philip M. Lydig, Miss Helen Morton, Miss Gladys Vanderbilt, Miss Amy Townsend, Captain A.T. Rose, Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt, Miss Edith Bishop, Miss Mabel Gerry, Thomas Cushing, Edward Livingston, Dudley Winthrop, Craig Wadsworth, Miss Gertrude Vanderbilt, Lispenard Stewart, Harry P. Whitney, Miss Sybil Sherman, Cornelius Vanderbilt.

Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt would be Alice Claypoole Gywnne – her daughters Gladys & Gertrude are also here. Several months later, Gertrude & Harry would marry.  I’m not sure which Cornelius this is in the photo, but maybe her son Cornelius?

The Vanderbilts and their Hotels

I love it when I come across a new Vanderbilt connection.  :-).  This past weekend I visited Augusta, Georgia for a work conference.  While touring the Morris Museum of Art, the docent happened to make a casual reference to “the hotel that the Vanderbilt’s stayed at” called the Bon Air. Ooh! Vanderbilts & Augusta?

So, of course I have to look it up. And, interestingly enough, the topic happened to coincide with a comment I received on the blog back in September.

Bon Air Vanderbilt Hotel

The Bon Air Hotel in Augusta, Georgia opened in 1923 and was one of 4 hotels the Vanderbilts established so they could cover every season.  It seems Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt was the family member behind them (at least initially; he died in 1915).  The 4 distinct hotels were:

  • the Vanderbilt Hotel in New York at 34th st. and Park Avenue
  • a summer resort hotel in Newport, Rhode Island
  • the Condado-Vanderbilt hotel of Puerto Rico  (this is the hotel I received the blog comment about)
  • and the Bon-Air in Augusta
One article described them as such:
With the completion of the Bon Air Vanderbilt, the hotels under Mr. Marshall’s direction will provide every seasonal requirement; a winter resort in Augusta, a summer resort in Newport, an any-time-of-the-year vacation spot in Porto Rico and an all-year home or temporary stopping place in New York. — Morning Olympian newspaper 11/28/1922.

The hotel closed eventually and is now a residence for the elderly.  It looks like a beautiful building though. Wish I would have had time to at least drive by while in town.

R1-05450-004A

Two Vanderbilt hotels I’ve now learned about within the past 30 days.  Kinda neat. :-)

Vanderbilt & the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island

Right now, my husband and I are watching the movie Somewhere in Time starring Christopher Reeves and Jane Seymour.  This is one of his favorite movies and we hope one day to actually visit the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island where the movie takes place.

Vanderbilt Suite at the Grand Hotel

Well, he just told me that there is a suite there called the Vanderbilt Suite, so off I go to find out what the association could be and guess what I learn – the hotel was opened in 1887 by a group of investors headed by the Commodore! Very cool.  I must research this further.

Where Was the Bellonia Hotel?

Today a new comment was posted on the site by William.  He wanted to know where in New Brunswick the Bellonia Hotel was located?

Does anyone know where specifically within the city of New Brunswick, NJ William Henry Vanderbilt (1821-1885) was born?  The address or at least the street the family lived on while living in New Brunswick?

This is what I know: a little more than three years ago, I found a sketch of the Bellona Hotel in a New York Times (NYT) article.  The hotel was run by Mrs. Vanderbilt and carried the same name as the steamboat the Commodore operated for Thomas Gibson. She was quite successful in operating it and the family made good money from it; her success with the hotel was fundamental to the start of his career.  The building was built in 1803.

So how do we find out where the hotel was located? A little more research and this is what I found out tonight:

  • a NYT article from August 19, 1900 has a notice about Ms. Hannah Bartow, New Brunswick’s eldest inhabitant.  The article states that she worked at the “old Ballonia Hotel, in Burnet street.”
  • a book reference that describes the location as being near Voorhees street.

excerpt from pg. 141 - Proceedings of the New Jersey Historical Society (Volume 3)

Looking at a map of the area, I see Voorhees and Burnet street are quite close to one another – both are along the river – a perfect spot for the Commodore to have been running the steamboats (pg. 9 of Arthur T. Vanderbilt’s book, Vanderbilt’s Fortune, says the home was right on the Commodore’s landing).

And what do you know? A search of the newspaper collection from the Library of Congress reveals an article from the February 8, 1901 issue of the San Francisco Call newspaper that also gives the hotel’s location on Burnet street.

Furthermore, a search of the digital archives of the New Brunswick Daily Times,  retrieves an article about a slaughterhouse to be built at the location of the former hotel  “on lower Burnet street..”

excerpt from the March 13, 1913 issue of the New Brunswick Daily Times

I’m pretty sure now that the hotel was on that street and William was born there.  Depending on William’s specific needs, next steps may be to:

Good luck William with your search!  Does anyone else have suggestions and/or additional info?
P.S. — it might help if I spelled the name of the hotel correctly! Forgive the typo on the blog title.  :-)

Which Vanderbilt Descendant is Going to the Royal Wedding?

If you guessed Anderson Cooper then yes, you would be right! However, he’s a CNN journalist – he gets around most places :-).  There is a chance some lesser known Vanderbilt descendants may be there also.

With all the festivities, I of course had to post about Vanderiblt connections to the event.  Those interested in the Vanderbilt family may remember that the Commodore’s great-granddaughter Consuelo Vanderbilt (1877-1964) married into the British royal family.  It was apparently not a marriage Consuelo desired,  but her and husband Charles Spencer-Churchill, 9th Duke of Marlborough were married for almost 30 years and had two children together.  I don’t have Conseulo’s descendancy tree completely filled in, however, her kids are relatives of Prince William.

Consuelo’s children, John Albert Edward William Spencer-Churchill and Ivor Charles Spencer-Churchill share a common ancestor with Princess Diana; his name was James Hamilton, Duke of Abercorn.   The Duke of Abercorn was their great-grandfather and is Prince William’s 4th great-grandfather.   I wonder if any of Consuelo’s descendants are attending the wedding of their cousin :-)  Some of them, such as Lady Henrietta Mary Spencer-Churchill (a granddaughter of Consuelo’s), live right there in London.

Create your family tree on Geni for free, and connect to the World Family Tree to find out if you are related to the Royal Family.
Disclaimer: I currently have a 12-month PRO Geni.com membership provided to me by the company. 

Tax Dodgers

How befitting a post on April 15th,  Tax Day here in the US.   I recently found this excerpt in the Google News Archive collection of St. Petersburg Times newspapers in a column titled “The Tax Dodgers.” .   The individuals mentioned are probably brothers Frederick William & George Washington Vanderbilt – grandsons of the Commodore.

St. Petersburg Times (FL). 27 Jul 1901. Accessed via Google News Archive.

W.H. Vanderbilt Donation to UNC

Found this in Google News Archive while indexing the Alamance Gleaner newspaper.

Transcription:  W.H. Vanderbilt has donated ten thousand dollars to the Deems Fund of the University of North Carolina.  This fund is intended to be loaned to needy students to enable them to acquire an education.  This is but another specimen of the large hearted generosity of Mr. Vanderbilt.  The money comes where it is needed.  There are many young men struggling up the rugged path to knowledge, who will be benefitted [sic] by this noble charity, and be grateful to both Mr. Vanderbilt and the founder of the fund in the years to come. “

Information online at UNC states that the Deems Fund was created in honor of Theodore Deems, son of UNC professor Charles Force Deems (1820 – 1893).  Theodore died in the Battle of Gettysburg.  According to his Wikipedia entry,  Deems was influential in securing the money from the Commodore  for the establishment of Vanderbilt University.

In an address to the Alumni Association of UNC in 1903, John Sprunt Hill talks about this gift:

extract from pg. 19 of the speech. Click on the picture to read it online.

Triumphal Arch of Maximillian by Durer

Here’s another post inspired by the Internet Archive — while browsing recent additions to the site from Brigham Young University I noticed works about Albrecht Durer.   Visitors of the Biltmore Estate may remember that one of Durer’s prints is on display in the Music Room in the house.

When I visited the house, this work is certainly one of the ones that left an impression upon me.  At approximately 10 x 11 feet, it is hypothesized to be one of the largest woodblock cuts ever produced.

Triumphal Arch of Maximillian commissioned about 1515

According to the Wikipedia article, there were about 700 prints made from the woodblocks so it’s my guess that this is one of the prints made?

There’s even a genealogy twist here — above the central arch, which is titled “Honour and Might”, there is a genealogy of Maximillian and is represented by a family tree.  From the pictures I can see, it seems to be a series of family crests.

Interested in reading more about Durer?  The works added to the Internet Archive were:

Self-portrait of Durer at the age of 13. From the book by Thausig.