William Church Osborn
William Church Osborn
Photograph of Osborn, c. 1910 – c. 1915
|8th President of the Metropolitan Museum of Art|
|Preceded by||George Blumenthal|
|Succeeded by||Roland L. Redmond|
|Born||December 21, 1862|
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Died||January 3, 1951 (aged 88)|
New York City, New York, U.S.
Alice Clinton Hoadley Dodge
(m. 1886; her death 1946)
|Children||5, including Frederick, Aileen|
|Parents||William Henry Osborn|
Virginia Reed Sturges Osborn
|Relatives||Henry F. Osborn (brother)|
Jonathan Sturges (grandfather)
|Alma mater||Princeton University|
Harvard Law School
William Church Osborn (December 21, 1862 – January 3, 1951) was the son of a prominent New York family who served in a variety of civic roles including president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, president of the Children's Aid Society, and president of the New York Society for the Relief of the Ruptured and Orphaned.
Osborn was born in 1862 in Chicago, Illinois. He was a son of Virginia Reed (née Sturges) Osborn (1830–1902) and William Henry Osborn, a prominent railroad tycoon who served as president of the Illinois Central Railroad and, later, became a philanthropist who exposed the Boss Tweed ring. His older brother was Henry Fairfield Osborn, a paleontologist who served as president of the American Museum of Natural History for twenty-five years.
A trained lawyer, Osborn was generally regarded as one of New York's first citizens and mostly served in philanthropic positions during his career. At the time of his death, he was the senior partner is the law firm of Osborn, Fleming & Whittlesey located at 20 Exchange Place. He also served as director of his mother's family business, Phelps Dodge, as well as the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad the Picacho Mining Corporation, the Tucson, Cornelia & Gila Bend Railroad Company, the Detroit, Toledo and Ironton Railroad, and was the chairman of the executive board of the Texas and Pacific Railroad.
Osborn unsuccessfully ran for New York State Senate in 1894 and 1904 as an Independent Democrat, and sought the governorship in New York in 1918. Although he was endorsed by then Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt and put forth at the convention by Samuel Seabury, he lost his bid to Alfred E. Smith, who was elected Governor. He was, nevertheless, very active in the political life of New York City and the wider state, serving as president of the Society to Prevent Corrupt Practices at Elections, as chairman of the New York State Democratic Committee. In 1911, he was legal adviser to Gov. John Alden Dix. He was also the founder, in 1932, president, and chairman of the Citizens Budget Commission.
Like his father, a friend of painter Frederic Edwin Church, Osborn was an art collector who focused on impressionist, post-impressionist, and American art of the 1800s and 1900s. His personal collection included artworks by Claude Monet, Paul Gauguin and Édouard Manet.
On June 3, 1886, Osborn was married to philanthropist and social reformer Alice Clinton Hoadley Dodge (1865–1946). Alice was a daughter of William E. Dodge, Jr. and the younger sister of Grace Hoadley Dodge, William E. Dodge III, and Cleveland Hoadley Dodge. Together, they lived at 135 East 36th Street (which was owned by J.P. Morgan) in the Murray Hill neighborhood in Manhattan, and were the parents of:
- Grace Dodge Osborn (b. 1887)
- Frederick Henry Osborn (1889–1981), a Major general who became a eugenicist and married Margaret Schieffelin, a descendant of John Jay.
- Aileen Hoadley Osborn (1892–1979), who became an arts patron and who married Vanderbilt Webb in 1912. He was a son of Eliza Osgood Vanderbilt Webb, grandson of William Henry Vanderbilt and great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt.
- Earl Dodge Osborn (1893–1988), who founded the EDO Corporation, and donated 1,003 acres to New York, for an expansion of the Fahnstock Park.
- William Henry Osborn II (1895–1971), a founder of Scenic Hudson.
Along with his children, he bought up land on the eastern shore of the Hudson River in New York, mostly small farms, and eventually donated thousands of acres to the state, including Sugarloaf Hill in Putnam County to be known as the Hudson Highlands State Park. He was also involved in the establishment of the Hudson River Conservation Society and the Garrison Landing Association, where he had a larger summer estate in the town of Garrison, New York near his father's estate, known as Castle Rock, which was inherited by his elder brother Henry.
His wife died at their home, 40 East 36th Street, in March 1946. Osborn died at his then home, 720 Park Avenue in New York City, on January 3, 1951. After a funeral at the Brick Presbyterian Church on the Upper East Side (which was attended by John D. Rockefeller Jr., Archibald Roosevelt, Bayard Dodge, Henry Sturgis Morgan, Junius S. Morgan, Frederick H. Ecker, and John F. Curry among others), he was buried at Saint Philip's Church Cemetery in Garrison.
Honors and legacy
In 1938, he received a gold medal from the National Institute of Social Sciences for "distinguished services to humanity." In 1942, he received an honorary LL.D. from his alma mater Princeton University as well as an honorary LL.D. from Columbia University in 1943.
- "WILLIAM C. OSBORN, CIVIC LEADER, DEAD; Ex-President of Metropolitan Museum of Art Also Headed Children's Aid Society LAWYER HERE FOR 61 YEARS Was a Founder of the Citizens Budget Commission in 1932 --Served With Railroads" (PDF). The New York Times. 4 January 1951. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
- "Dodge-Osborn Hall". Princeton University Press. Retrieved 2010-09-21.
- "THE OBITUARY RECORD.; William H. Osborn" (PDF). The New York Times. 5 March 1894. p. 5. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
- Leitch, Alexander (2015). A Princeton Companion. Princeton University Press. p. 142. ISBN 9781400870011. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
- "William Church Osborn". The New York Times. 5 January 1951. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
- "Osborn, Wm. Church (William Church), 1862-1951". research.frick.org. Frick Art Reference Library. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
- "MRS. OSBORN DIES; PHILANTHROPIST, 81; Wife of Head of Metropolitan Museum of Art a Leader in Travelers Aid Society" (PDF). The New York Times. 31 March 1946. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
- Miller, Tom (3 January 2019). "Daytonian in Manhattan: The William Church Osborn House - 135 East 36th Street". Daytonian in Manhattan. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
- Dodge, Joseph Thompson (1898). Genealogy of the Dodge Family of Essex County, Mass. 1629-1894: 1629-1898. Democrat Printing Company. pp. 605–606. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
- Saxon, Wolfgang (7 January 1981). "Frederick Osborn, a General, 91, Dies". The New York Times. p. 12. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
- "Aileen O. Webb, Leading Figure In National Crafts Movement, 87". The New York Times. 17 August 1979. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
- Shaykett, Jessica. "This Month in American Craft Council History: June 2012". www.craftcouncil.org. American Craft Council. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
- Cook, Joan (13 December 1988). "Earl Dodge Osborn Is Dead at 95; Founded Aircraft Manufacturer". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
- "Earl Dodge Osborn, Founder of EDO Corporation, Inducted into Long Island Technology Hall of Fame". www.businesswire.com. 2 March 2004. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
- Dunwell, Frances F. (1991). The Hudson River Highlands. Columbia University Press. p. 197. ISBN 9780231070430. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
- "Osborn and Dodge Family Papers | Rare Books and Special Collections". rbsc.princeton.edu. Princeton University Library. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
- "ASSOCIATES ATTEND OSBORN'S FUNERAL; Notables in Several Fields Pay Tribute to Civic Leader at Brick Presbyterian Church" (PDF). The New York Times. 6 January 1951. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
- "Central Park Monuments - William Church Osborn Gates : NYC Parks". www.nycgovparks.org. New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
- William Church Osborn at Find a Grave
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art Archives; William Church Osborn Records, 1904-1953
- 1931 Portrait of William Church Osborn by Sidney Edward Dickinson at the Princeton University Art Museum.
|Party political offices|
George M. Palmer
| New York State Democratic Committee Chairman
Edwin S. Harris
President of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Roland L. Redmond