Guide to the Goelet family papers, 1881-1953

(bulk 1893-1898)


Salve Regina University Special Collections
McKillop Library
100 Ochre Point Avenue
Salve Regina University
Newport, RI 02840
Tel: 401-341-2276
Fax: 401-341-2951
email: archives@salve.edu

Published in 2010

Collection Overview

Title: Goelet family papers
Date range: 1881-1953, (bulk 1893-1898)
Creator: Goelet family
Extent: 1.25 linear feet (3 document boxes)
Abstract: Financial records and correspondence related to Ogden Goelet and his family members, including his brother and his son, both named Robert. Much of the material relates to the family's real estate holdings in New York City and Odgen's Newport residence, Ochre Court.
Physical location: Row 5, Unit 7, Shelf 4
Language of materials: English
Repository: Salve Regina University Special Collections
Collection number: SP 02

Scope & content

The collection includes primarily correspondence and financial records, such as bills and receipts, related to real estate or personal property owned by various members of the Goelet family. Unless specifically noted otherwise in the folder titles, bills and correspondence were sent to Ogden Goelet.

The bulk of this collection relates to Ogden and his son Robert. However, a portion of the material relates to Ogden's brother Robert and to real estate that the brothers owned jointly. The most reliable method for determining which Robert is the subject of a file is to check the dates of the material. Ogden's father lived from 1809-1879, his brother from 1841-1899, and his son from 1880-1966. Considering the dates, bills sent to the "Estate of Robert Goelet" most likely refer to Ogden's father rather than his brother.

It appears that 9 West 17th Street was a business address where Ogden's, and perhaps his brother Robert's, paid receipts were sent.

Arrangement

The files in this collection are divided into five series. The contents of all folders are in chronological order. Dates in the folder titles reflect dates when contents were created. Most folders also contain a small amount of undated material.
  • Series 1: Ochre Court, Newport, RI
  • Series 2: New York City real estate
  • Series 3: Interior furnishings and objects
  • Series 4: Personal expenses
  • Series 5: Miscellaneous

Biographical note

Brothers Robert Goelet (1841-1899) and Ogden Goelet (1846-1897) were the scions of a wealthy New York family that had made vast investments in real estate over several generations. Upon the death of their father Robert R. Goelet (1809-1879) and their bachelor uncle Peter (c.1800-1879), they inherited holdings throughout Manhattan. The brothers maintained the empire and expanded it to Newport as well, building neighboring homes on Ochre Point. The Goelets were very much a part of high New York society and were founders of the New York Metropolitan Opera.

Older brother Robert married Harriett Louise Warren and had two children, Robert “Bertie” Walton Goelet and Beatrice Goelet. He graduated from Columbia College in 1860 and later studied law and passed the bar. He was regarded by his peers as a wise businessman with good financial judgment. In later years, the family’s main residence was at 591 Fifth Avenue in New York.

Younger brother Ogden married Mary R. Wilson [Mary R. Goelet] in 1878 and had two children, Mary "May" Wilson Goelet [Mary W. Goelet] (1879?-1937) and Robert Goelet (1880-1966). Ogden was a noted real estate investor with properties throughout Manhattan. After 1884, the main Goelet residence in New York City was at 608 Fifth Avenue (49th and Fifth), around the corner from a second house at 4 West 49th Street. The family's stables were located at 7 East 52nd Street. Ogden also owned interests in the Hotel Imperial, which occupied a block on Broadway (1250 Broadway) between 31st & 32nd Streets; the San Carlo apartment building (likely near Broadway and 31st Street); the Gorham Building at 889 Broadway on the northwest corner of 19th Street; the Judge Building at 110 Fifth Avenue on the northwest corner of 16th Street; the properties at 895, 897, and 899 Broadway; 10 East 20th Street; 9 East 19th Street; Abbey's Theatre (later the Knickerbocker Theater) at 1400 Broadway on the northeast corner of 38th Street; and the Kemble Building at 15-25 Whitehall, also identified as the intersection of Whitehall, Stone, and Bridge streets.

After several years of poor health, during which he spent his winters at Nice or Cannes, Ogden died in 1897 on his yacht Mayflower at Cowes, England. May and Robert were still teenagers when their father died.

In 1903, Ogden's daughter May married Henry John Innes-Ker, the eighth Duke of Roxburghe, with whom she had only one son, George.

Young Robert was a Harvard graduate who served as a captain in the infantry in France during World War I. He became a major force in the development of American railroads, hotels, and real estate, and he served as a director of Chemical Bank and of New York Trust Company. With three wives and four children, Robert had a more complicated matrimonial history than his sister. He married his first wife, Elsie Whelen, in 1904 and had two children, Ogden and Peter, before his divorce in 1914. He met his second wife, Fernanda Rocchi Riabouchinsky, while in Europe during the war and married her in 1919. They had one son, Robert Goelet, Jr., before divorcing in 1924. He married his third wife, Roberta Willard, in 1925 and with her had a daughter, Mary Eleanor. Robert and Roberta were married until her death in 1949.

In 1947, Robert donated his Newport house, Ochre Court, to the Sisters of Mercy for the formation of Salve Regina College. He and Roberta moved to a new home, Champs Soleil, down the street on Bellevue Avenue.

Other people mentioned in the papers are:

  • William Berrian, who was described as a real estate dealer by the New York Times (Dec. 29, 1897).
  • Ernest W. Bowditch, a civil engineer and landscape gardener who participated in the design of Ochre Court’s grounds.
  • James H. Bowditch, a landscape gardener from Boston who worked on the design of gardens and grounds around Ochre Court.
  • George G. DeWitt, who acted as an executor for both Ogden and his brother Robert.
  • T. Firth, Jr., who paid many bills for Ogden and was possibly a business manager or secretary in New York.
  • John R. Johnson, the horticultural consultant who worked onsite in Newport on the establishment of gardens and landscaping at Ochre Court. He is mentioned in the collection from 1894-1896.
  • Montgomery Maze, the general manager of Grand Central Palace at least from 1897-1898. He leased the building from the Goelets.
  • John Yale, the business manager or secretary in New York City who received and paid Ogden’s bills at 9 West 17th Street from at least 1894-1897.

Access & Use

Access to the collection: This collection is not restricted.
Use of the materials: Various copying restriction apply, according to the Special Collections use policy. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be directed to the Special Collections Librarian. See also McKillop Library's copyright and publication statement.
Alternate form: Alternate Form Available Digital reproductions of this collection are available at http://digitalcommons.salve.edu/goelet-papers.
Preferred citation: [Identification of item], in SP 02: Goelet family papers, [Box #, Folder #], Special Collections, McKillop Library, Salve Regina University, Newport, RI.
Contact information: Salve Regina University Special Collections
McKillop Library
100 Ochre Point Avenue
Salve Regina University
Newport, RI 02840
Tel: 401-341-2276
Fax: 401-341-2951
email: archives@salve.edu

Administrative Information

ABOUT THE COLLECTION  
Acquisition: Material was purchased from a private individual in July 2007. The papers had been found in a piece of furniture formerly owned by the Goelet family. No original order was apparent, though the sellers had arranged the material into six 3-ring binders and one group of loose material. The binders bore the following labels: Goelet European documents; Goelet NY documents; Goelet Newport, RI (2); Hunt autographs; Robert Goelet. Items were in plastic sleeves, though some sleeves contained several pieces and many individual items were still folded. There was no chronological order to the material.
Accruals: No additional accruals are expected.
Processing information: Maria Bernier, University Archivist, removed the items from their sleeves, rearranged them into new series, and put them in chronological order. New finding aid produced in 2008 July by Maria Bernier, University Archivist.
ABOUT THE FINDING AID  
Author: Finding aid prepared by Maria Bernier
Encoding: Finding aid encoded by Aimee Saunders 2010 July 07
Revisions:

2017 August 1

  • Links to digital reproductions of collection materials were modified by Genna Duplisea.
  • 2017 February 22

  • Links to digital reproductions of collection materials were added to the finding aid by Genna Duplisea.
  • Descriptive rules: Finding aid based on Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS)

    Additional Information

    Related material: Related Material in the Salve Regina University Archives
    • PG 19: Photographs of university properties
    • RG 19: Collection on university properties
    • SP 06: Collection on Goelet furnishings
    Related collections elsewhere
    • New-York Historical Society
    • Olmsted National Historic Park
    • Richard M. Hunt collection at the American Architectural Foundation
    Location/Existence of copies:

    Alternate Form Available

    Digital reproductions of this collection are available at http://digitalcommons.salve.edu/goelet-papers.

    Inventory


    Ochre Court, Newport, RI, 1892-1897
    0.417 Linear feet (11 folders)
    The files in series 1 date from 1892 to 1897 and represent 0.417 linear feet. This series documents the later stages of construction, landscaping and furnishing of the mansion. There is very little information about the planning and design process or the primary construction of the building.

    The folders titled "Expenses related to construction..." contain many receipts and correspondence from Richard Morris Hunt, who seemed to be working as the project manager, overseeing even the last stages of decoration and exterior work. Receipts from his firm cease shortly after his death in July 1895. The "landscape expenses" files document work that was done on the grounds after the Olmsteds' work was completed. Some of these details were overseen by James H. and Ernest Bowditch. Many Newport companies from the turn of the century are represented in this series, and many local individuals are named.

    Digital reproductions of the materials in this series are available at http://digitalcommons.salve.edu/ochre-court.
    Ochre Court, commissioned by Ogden Goelet as his family's summer residence in Newport, was the first of four Newport mansions designed by Richard Morris Hunt. As the country's foremost architect in the late 19th century, Hunt drew inspiration for the 50-room limestone palace from late Gothic French architecture. Inside the house, Hunt utilized design elements from French renaissance chateaux and churches to create a three-story Great Hall, from which radiate impressive ground floor reception rooms such as a dining room, ballroom, and library. Private upstairs family rooms were richly designed with imported antique fireplaces and lavish wall coverings. Hunt emphasized the Goelets' social position and their patronage of learning and the arts with exuberant decoration in classical ceiling paintings, royal heraldic devices, carved emblems and statues, and a rich collection of antique stained glass. Many of the furnishings were obtained through high-end dealers such as L. Alavoine, Jules Allard Fils, and L. Marcotte. Hunt brought in other experienced New York companies such as James Sinclair & Co. to erect the stonework and Ellin, Kitson & Co. to carve the Caen limestone interiors and gilded woodwork. Ochre Court was one of the first fully electrified residences in Newport, using its own generator. Construction of the house officially spanned the years 1888 to 1891, but it appears that many smaller tasks of decorating the interior and completing the gardens continued well into the mid 1890s.

    The estate grounds, designed by Olmsted Brothers, had formal perennial gardens and walkways shaded by several mature specimen trees.

    It was Robert's gift of Ochre Court to the Religious Sisters of Mercy in 1947 that established Salve Regina College.

    Container Description Date
    Box 1, Folder 1 Ochre Court: Expenses related to construction, maintenance, services, etc.
    1893
    Box 1, Folder 2 Ochre Court: Expenses related to construction, maintenance, services, etc.
    1894
    Box 1, Folder 3 Ochre Court: Expenses related to construction, maintenance, services, etc.
    1895-1896
    Box 1, Folder 4 Ochre Court: Expenses related to construction, maintenance, services, etc.
    1897
    Box 1, Folder 5 Electrification of Ochre Court
    1892-1897
    Box 1, Folder 6 Expenses and supplies related to Ochre Court or from Newport companies
    1893-1897
    Box 1, Folder 7 Ochre Court: Utility bills
    1893-1897
    Box 1, Folder 8 Ochre Court: Landscape and garden expenses
    1894
    Box 1, Folder 9 Ochre Court: Landscape and garden expenses
    1895
    Box 1, Folder 10 Ochre Court: Landscape and garden expenses
    1896
    Box 1, Folder 11 Ochre Court: Landscape and garden expenses
    1897

    New York City real estate, 1893-1899
    0.25 Linear feet (19 folders)
    The files in series 2 date from 1893 to 1899 and represent 0.25 linear feet. This series documents expenses related to real estate in New York City owned by the Goelets. Most properties are listed by address. The files include some bills to Ogden that were paid posthumously by business managers and some invoices from Department of Water Supply, Consolidated Gas Co., and the city of New York. While it shows a representative picture of their real estate investments, this series does not describe the family's entire holdings.

    Digital reproductions of the materials in this series are available at http://digitalcommons.salve.edu/goelet-new-york.

    Container Description Date
    Box 2, Folder 1 Ogden Goelet: Expenses related to New York City real estate
    1893-1898
    Box 2, Folder 2 Ogden Goelet: Expenses related to New York City residence at 608 Fifth Avenue
    1896-1897
    Box 2, Folder 3 Ogden Goelet: Taxes and utility bills for New York City real estate
    1896-1897
    Box 2, Folder 4 Ogden Goelet: List of checks to be signed
    1893 Feb-Mar
    Box 2, Folder 5 Ogden Goelet: Miscellaneous documents related to New York residence or Ochre Court
    undated
    Box 2, Folder 6 Estate of Robert Goelet: Expenses related to New York City real estate
    1897-1898
    Box 2, Folder 7 Robert Goelet: Expenses related to New York City real estate
    1897-1898
    Box 2, Folder 8 Robert Goelet: Utility bills for New York City real estate
    1898
    Box 2, Folder 9 Robert Goelet and Ogden Goelet: Expenses related to New York City real estate owned jointly
    1897
    Box 2, Folder 10 Robert Goelet and Ogden Goelet: Expenses related to New York City real estate owned jointly
    1898
    Box 2, Folder 11 Robert Goelet and Ogden Goelet: Expenses related to Knickerbocker Hotel owned jointly
    1897-1898
    Box 2, Folder 12 Robert Goelet and Ogden Goelet: Expenses related to Grand Central Palace/Industrial Building owned jointly
    1897-1898
    Box 2, Folder 13 Robert Goelet and Ogden Goelet: Taxes and utility bills for New York City real estate owned jointly
    1897-1898
    Box 2, Folder 14 Statement of expenses paid by William Berrian on behalf of Robert Goelet and Ogden Goelet
    1897-1898
    Box 2, Folder 15 Statements of expenses paid by T. Firth, Jr. on behalf of the Estate of Robert Goelet
    1897-1898
    Box 2, Folder 16 Goelet Estate: Utility bills for New York City real estate
    1898
    Box 2, Folder 17 Utility bills for New York City real estate owned by unidentified Goelet family members
    1896-1898
    Box 2, Folder 18 Taxes and utility bills sent to Goelet family business associates
    1897-1899
    Box 2, Folder 19 Real estate expense statements
    1898-1899

    Interior furnishings and objects, 1882-1897
    0.25 Linear feet (7 folders)
    The files in series 3, Interior furnishings and objects, date from 1882 to 1897 and represent 0.25 linear feet. This series documents some of the purchases made by the Goelets when furnishing and decorating their homes in Newport and New York City. In some cases, it can be difficult to determine whether furnishings were intended for Ochre Court or for the New York residence. Some clues can be gleaned from dates and the addresses where the bills were sent. Papers from Allard Fils, Ch. Rafard, and other European sources are written in French

    Digital reproductions of the materials in this series are available at http://digitalcommons.salve.edu/goelet-interior.

    Container Description Date
    Box 2, Folder 20 Purchases from L. Alavoine Co.
    1895-1897
    Box 2, Folder 21 Purchases from Jules Allard Fils
    1883-1891
    Box 2, Folder 22 Purchases from Allard & Sons
    1894
    Box 2, Folder 23 Purchases from L. Marcotte & Co.
    1882-1897
    Box 3, Folder 1 Purchases from Ch. Rafard and George Donaldson
    1891-1893
    Box 3, Folder 2 Purchases from other European sources
    1883-1893
    Box 3, Folder 3 Purchases from other American sources
    1882-1893

    Personal expenses, 1881-1949
    0.292 Linear feet (12 folders)
    The files in series 4, Personal expenses, date from 1881 to 1949 and represent 0.292 linear feet. This series documents individual purchases of personal items. Personal expenses are defined to include any non-furnishing and non-real estate expenses, such as clothing, books, wine, household and yacht supplies, fishing supplies, etc. The folder with Ogden’s shipping receipts provides some understanding of the transport of furnishings from Europe to his homes in New York City and Newport.

    Digital reproductions of the materials in this series are available at http://digitalcommons.salve.edu/goelet-personal-expenses.

    Container Description Date
    Box 3, Folder 4 Ogden Goelet Personal expenses, New York City
    1881, 1893-1897
    Box 3, Folder 5 Ogden Goelet: Membership dues and donations, New York City
    1894-1897
    Box 3, Folder 6 Ogden Goelet: Membership dues, Newport
    1897
    Box 3, Folder 7 Ogden Goelet: Personal expenses from European sources
    1886-1895
    Box 3, Folder 8 Ogden Goelet: Shipping receipts and correspondence related to shipments
    1892-1897
    Box 3, Folder 9 Ogden Goelet: Currency exchanges
    1893
    Box 3, Folder 10 Mrs. Ogden Goelet [Mary R. Goelet]: Personal expenses from European sources
    1890-1895
    Box 3, Folder 11 Robert Goelet and Ogden Goelet: Joint personal expenses
    1898
    Box 3, Folder 12 Robert Goelet: Personal expenses from American sources
    1897, 1938-1953
    Box 3, Folder 13 Robert Goelet: Personal expenses from European sources
    1892, 1928-1949
    Box 3, Folder 14 Robert Goelet: Correspondence related to shipments
    1928
    Box 3, Folder 15 Mrs. Robert Goelet [Roberta Goelet]: Personal expenses from European sources
    1928-1939

    Miscellaneous, 1883-1928
    0.042 Linear feet (7 folders)
    The files in series 5, Miscellaneous, date from 1883 to 1928 and represent 0.042 linear feet. This series contains various correspondence, legal documents, and papers that do not fit into other series.

    Digital reproductions of the materials in this series are available at http://digitalcommons.salve.edu/goelet-miscellaneous.

    Container Description Date
    Box 3, Folder 16 Legal documents: Goelet family settlements, trusts, mortgage, etc.
    1899-1905, 1913
    Box 3, Folder 17 Ogden Goelet: Correspondence with artist Charles Chaplin
    1883
    Box 3, Folder 18 Ogden Goelet: Correspondence with Pendletons regarding Cave Cliff
    1890
    Box 3, Folder 19 Ogden Goelet: Miscellaneous correspondence
    1893-1897
    Box 3, Folder 20 Robert Goelet: Miscellaneous correspondence
    1928, undated
    Box 3, Folder 21 Dog pedigrees
    circa 1893
    Box 3, Folder 22 Inventories of household and yacht items
    1897