William Kissam Vanderbilt, I

William Kissam Vanderbilt, I

Birth
New Dorp, Richmond County (Staten Island), New York, USA
Death 22 Jul 1920 (aged 70)
Paris, City of Paris, Île-de-France, France
Burial New Dorp, Richmond County (Staten Island), New York, USA
Plot The Vanderbilt Mausoleum
Memorial ID 6598354 · View Source
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Railroad executive, yachtsman, horse breeder and racing enthusiast, clubman, art collector and philanthropist. Second son of William Henry Vanderbilt (1821-1885), and Maria Louisa Kissam Vanderbilt (1821-1896). William Kissam Vanderbilt I closely resembled the distinguishing traits of his grandfather, the success-compelling 'Commodore' Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1877), founder of the family fortune.
Educated in private schools in New York and in Geneva, Switzerland, he began his career at age nineteen when assigned a clerkship in the office of the Treasurer of the New York Central Railroad, eventually becoming Director of the Vanderbilt lines. William K. became identified with the Lake Shore and Michigan Central Railroads, and became Chairman of the Lake Shore Board of Directors. At the time the family acquired the New York, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad he became its financial head. When the illness of his older brother, Cornelius II, required that he assume greater control of the lines, William K. also undertook the management of the entire New York Central rail system, and was the dominant mind in the reorganization and extension of the family's system of railroads. Under his aegis the Grand Central Terminal, and surrounding "Terminal City" of office buildings and hotels, were planned and built.
He well understood that architecture could accomplish a polite revolution and built for himself a limestone-clad townhouse, at 660 Fifth Avenue, whose graceful splendor initiated the trend which turned New York from a town of brownstone dwellings into a city of competitive chateaux, and which propelled the Vanderbilts into the uppermost regions of American 'Society'. At Newport, Rhode Island, he built "Marble House", then, as now, that summer resort's most striking 'cottage'.
When his eldest son, William Kissam Vanderbilt II, entered the employ of the New York Central, in 1903, William K. Sr. withdrew from business and devoted himself to sport; leaving the Vanderbilt railroad interests in the capable hands of Board Chairman, Senator Chauncey M. Depew. William K., by that time living the better part of the year in France, purchased and restored a 15th-century manor house, "Le Quesnay", outside of Paris, and established a successful horse breeding farm, the Haras du Quesnay, in nearby Deauville, which, for many years, led the winners on the French turf.
In April, 1920, while attending the races at Auteuil, in Paris, he suffered a heart attack, and on July 22nd. expired in the presence of his wife and his three children,
at his townhouse, 10 rue Leroux, in the French capital. His remains were returned to New York where a private service, attended by his family and close friends, was held at his city residence, 660 Fifth Avenue, before internment in the Vanderbilt Mausoleum near his birthplace on Staten Island.

Bio by: R. Bruce



  • Maintained by: R. Bruce
  • Originally Created by: Peterborough K
  • Added: 11 Jul 2002
  • Find A Grave Memorial 6598354
  • R. Bruce
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for William Kissam Vanderbilt, I (12 Dec 1849–22 Jul 1920), Find A Grave Memorial no. 6598354, citing Vanderbilt Family Cemetery and Mausoleum, New Dorp, Richmond County (Staten Island), New York, USA ; Maintained by R. Bruce (contributor 46568831) .