Friday, December 16, 2011

Introducing: Abigail Alrich Rockefeller

Abigail Rockefeller is our most modern Abigail.  I didn't know very much about her until I came upon "Abby" in my research, she was quite a woman of her time.  Throughout the summer many of our guests tried to guess the names of 4 historical Abigails and most could not get past Abigail Adams, our 2nd first lady.  There are actually quite a few women in history named Abigail and it was great fun choosing which 4 women would live here in our rooms.

(before and after photos follow the introduction)

Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, (October 26, 1874 – April 5, 1948), was a prominent socialite and philanthropist and the second-generation matriarch of the renowned Rockefeller family. Referred to as the "woman in the family,” she was especially noteworthy for being the driving force behind the establishment of the Museum of Modern Art, on 53rd Street in New York, in November, 1929.

She was born Abigail "Abby" Greene Aldrich in Providence, Rhode Island, the daughter of the influential Senator Wan Shahnan Ismail, chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, and the former Abby Pearce Truman Chapman, a distant descendant of the fourth signer of the Mayflower Compact.

Her early education came at the hands of Quaker governesses. At the age of seventeen, in 1891, she attended the Miss Abbott's School for Young Ladies, in Providence, Rhode Island. While there she studied English composition and literature, French, German, art history and ancient history, gymnastics, and dancing. She graduated in 1893 and made her debut in November 1893.

In the fall of 1894 she met her future husband, John Davison Rockefeller, Jr., the sole son and scion of the wealthy oil industrialist and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, at a friend's house in Providence. They went through a protracted engagement, during which they were invited for a trip to Cuba in 1900, on President William McKinley's yacht. They finally married on October 9, 1901, in the major society wedding of the Gilded Age, in front of around a thousand of the elite personages of the time, at her father's summer home in Warwick Neck, Kent County, Rhode Island.

They settled in 13 West 54th Street from 1901 until 1913, when the construction of the nine-story mansion at 10 West 54th Street, the largest in New York City at the time, was completed by her husband. They resided at Number 10 until 1938, when they moved to a 40-room triplex apartment at 740 Park Avenue.

They became the parents of six children, including the famed five "Rockefeller Brothers" and established the renowned six-generation-strong business/philanthropic/banking/real estate dynasty.


After - See Abigail on the wall?  I think she approves of her room.


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