First Class Homes of the Titanic's First Class Passengers Part 2: Washingtonians, Philadelphians and New Yorkers
In the first installment of this series, I looked at homes of some of the boldest-faced names on the Tianic.
In this post, I will visit some of the homes owned by other members of the glittering cast of characters who occupied the first class staterooms and suites on the ill-fated liner’s maiden voyage.
By 1912, “the times they were a changin” for the East Coast’s urban elite. Improvements in communications and transportation coupled with increased growth and congestion of major urban centers had precipitated a significant shift in their domestic living patterns. Many still carried on the tradition of maintaining large servant-staffed townhouses (with the wealthier having second and third establishments in the country or resort areas) while others had begun to abandon them in favor of the ease and convenience of apartment or suburban living. Soon enough, this stream would become a deluge, fueled by the imposition of the income tax the following year, the servant crisis and other effects of World War I, along with other economic and societal factors that would soon bring an end to the Gilded Age as we think of it today.
Passenger Clarence Moore epitomized the traditional lifestyle of the Gilded Age uber-wealthy. Having amassed a substantial fortune in his native West Virginia, he later moved to Washington DC and married the former Mabel Swift (of the Chicago meatpacking fortune) in 1900.
With their combined wealth, the Moores engaged architect JH de Sibour to design a soigné beaux arts limestone mansion for them in Washington, where they lived along with their 3 children (and 20 servants according to the 1910 census).
In addition to property in Virginia and a farm in Maryland, they summered in a gargantuan wooden pile named “Swiftmoor” in Prides Crossing on Massachusetts’ north shore.
On his way home from a foxhound buying trip in England for the Loudon Hunt in Virginia (of which he was huntmaster), Clarence Moore died in the sinking along with his manservant. Mabel, soon dubbed “Washington’s Wealthiest Widow” by the press, was remarried by 1915.
Major Archibald Butt, another Washington DC resident, was a former journalist, Army officer, diplomat and Military Aide to Presidents Roosevelt and Taft. Despite his bachelor status, Butt occupied a large brick townhouse at 2000 G Street NW which he shared with his friend (and traveling companion on the Titanic), artist Francis Millet, a native of Massachusetts.
The two were known for throwing large parties at the G Street mansion attended by Congressmen, Supreme Court Justices and President Taft. Both died in the sinking.
Farther north in Philadelphia, passenger William Ernest Carter and his wife Lucille were popular members of the cosmopolitan set that shuttled between New York, Philadelphia Europe Newport
They kept a townhouse on Rittenhouse Square, entertained extensively at their estate in Bryn Mawr named Gwedna and summered at their Newport cottage on Narragansett Avenue named Quatrefoil.
Prior to the sailing, the family had rented Rotherby Manor near Melton Mowbray in England for the Hunting season.
While the couple survived the sinking, their marriage did not, divorcing in 1914.
Charlotte Drake Cardeza, daughter of a wealthy British Textile manufacturer, was another passenger from Philadelphia. Instead of a mansion in the middle of town, she opted to live outside the City center, in Germantown.
Her lifestyle was no less formal than someone living in town though, judging from period photographs of Montebello, her estate there.
She and her son Thomas were returning from his private hunting reserve in Hungary, bringing with them fourteen trunks, four suitcases, and three crates of baggage and personal staff aboard the Titanic. Thomas owned a handsome mansion at 1016 Madison Avenue, though he never actually lived there, leasing it out as an investment property.
Both survived the sinking.
Socially prominent John Borland Thayer, Second Vice-President of the Pennsylvania Railroad, his wife Marion and their children also lived outside of Philadelphia’s center, in Haverford, part of the chic string of towns known as the Main Line.
Redlands, their comfortable Arts and Crafts style mansion, showed the move towards a less rigid, formal lifestyle that many of the wealthy were beginning to adopt, at least from an architectural standpoint.
Another Philadelphia resident on the ship had given up the headache of owning a large establishment either in town or the suburbs altogether. Emma Bucknell (widow of the founder of Bucknell University, who died in the 1890s) had sold the large family mansion located on Walnut and 17th streets in 1907.
A few years before, she had built Pine Point Camp on Upper Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks, where she continued to spend her summers while owning a home in Clearwater Florida as well for the winter seasons.
In between her frequent world travels, she would stay with one of her married daughters when she came home to visit Philadelphia.
The homes of New Yorkers traveling first class on board the Titanic ran the gamut of Gilded Age urban housing options. A good number still occupied townhomes. The Henry Sleeper Harpers had a large brownstone facing Gramercy Park.
The Hoyts and the Beckwiths had homes on the Upper East Side, which still stand today.
On the Upper West Side and in Bloomingdale, one could find brownstones belonging to the Rothschilds, Taussigs and the Foremans.
Brooklyn native Wyckoff Van der hoef, who was lost in the sinking, occupied this townhouse at 109 Joralemon Street
Others had already adopted more modern living arrangements. Theatrical producer Charles B Harris and his wife occupied a large apartment in the Prasada on Central Park West.
Wealthy widow Martha Stone lived at the Plaza Hotel.
The Frederic O Spedden family had made the move up to Tuxedo Park in 1910 where they built Wee Wah Lodge in 1910. While using it at their principal residence, they also summered in Bar Harbor and wintered at fashionable resorts.
Also opting for a more suburban locale after living in the City was the widowed Margaret Welles Swift.
A native of upstate New York she and her late husband had retired to a large comfortable queen style house (still standing) in Nyack NY, after living for a number of years in Brooklyn.
She did not immediately return there after the sinking however, deciding to stay at her sister's home at 3 East 61stStreet while recuperating from the harrowing experience. It was a surprising modestly-scaled brownstone dwarfed by the later mansions of New York’s Millionaires Row.