A Cozy Mansion


Near the end of his life, Cornelius Vanderbilt was said to own 15 cents of every dollar in circulation in the US. Perhaps it’s not surprising that his grandchildren’s main concern was spending this never to be seen again, pre-income tax fortune. One of the more low key mansions they built is in Hyde Park, New York, right next to FDR’s family home, which we visited during our holiday break. Intended for intimate gatherings (the dining room table in their New York townhouse sat several hundred) and used for a few weeks in the spring and fall, the Hyde Park property was owned by the Vanderbilt’s for less than 40 years. As the Depression deepened in the late 30s, the family was forced to sell, only to find no one with the cash to buy it. They finally acceded to FDR’s request and donated it to the government, preserving this most impressive monument to the Gilded Age.

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  1. They weren’t forced to sell; they were *dead*. Frederick Vanderbilt died in the late 30’s (as the Depression was coming to a close), a very wealthy man, and his niece inherited it. She put it up for sale.

    Comment by chechina — December 10, 2011 @ 9:56 pm

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