Thursday, August 2, 2012

The William A. Clark Mansion, New York City

With his business interests booming, Senator William A. Clark decided to move his business empire to New York City. Upon arriving, Clark felt that the New York townhouses already standing were too shabby for him to live in, so he decided to show everyone how to build a true palace worth living in. He called up the firm of Lord, Hewlett & Hull to draw up plans for a massive mansion occupying the corner of 960 Fifth Avenue, which would cost $7 million. After the plans were submitted, Clark sent them to Henri Deglane in Paris for further embellishments.

William And His Wife, Anna, Were Said To Have Enjoyed An Income Of Almost $10 Million And Yearly Spent $3 million

When it was completed, the mansion was one of the largest in the city, with over 100 rooms and 6 stories. The mansion had taken 13 years to complete and was, at the time of it's completion, considered to be outdated and gaudy. Nevertheless, William didn't care what the public thought, like most millionaires, and he promptly moved in, along with his large family and even larger art collection. The floor plan of his palace was quite different compared to other millionaires' homes and was sort of an odd clump of rooms, and most importantly, according to Mrs. Charles B. Alexander, there was no ballroom.

The ground floor was dedicated more toward the servants, comfort and storage, while the second floor house the main entertaining rooms. The remaining floors held several bedrooms and servant's rooms. In the basement were the kitchens, pantries, servant's spaces, a wine cellar, garage, cold storage plant, the furnace and a swimming pool. Mr. Clark made sure of one thing in his house, that there be plenty of space to house his art collection.

The Grand Staircase Was Done In Decorative Stone And Had Iron Railing Imported From France At A Cost Of $1,000

On The Fireplace In The Reception Room, Which Was Done In Marble, Was A Portrait Of President George Washington

The Office Library Was William's Private Retreat And Held Hundreds Of Volumes And Antique Books
The Petit Salon Was Mrs. Clark's Favorite Room And It Was Also Were She Had Tea Every Morning Right After She Woke Up

The Grand Salon Also Would Double As A Ballroom When Needed And Held Most Of Clark's Collection Of French Furniture

 When It Was Used As A Ballroom, The Grand Salon Could Hold 1,000 People And It Could Seat Even More When It Was Used As A Banquet Hall

The Dining Room Was Practically A Small Banquet Hall, It Could Seat 75 People And Was Also Used As A Dance hall For Small Occasions

The Large Picture Gallery Held Mostly Portraits That Clark Had Collected Over The Years, Along With Many Landscapes That Clark Had Bought

The Small Picture Gallery held Most Of Clark's Collection Of Small Paintings, Portraits And Landscapes

The Faience Gallery Held Clark's Collection Of Plates, Dishes, Vases, Small Statuary, China, Cups And Tapestries

William A. Clark died in 1925 and the mansion was the scene of his spectacular funeral. Clark's fortune of $100 million was left to be shared by his large family, each getting around $10 million. The Family quickly decided to sell the $7 million mansion and donated it's large art collection to Corcoran Gallery in Washington, along with a $3 million bequest. Mrs. Clark moved into an apartment with her daughter, Huguette M. Clark, in a nearby apartment building at 907 Fifth Avenue on the 8th floor, they later purchased the entire floor.

Huguette In Time Began To Distrust Her Family And Thought They Were After Her Money. When Talking Business, She Spoke Only In French

Huguette had been the favorite child of William A. Clark, she was also his youngest, and when he died she had inherited $20 million, instead of the $10 million her siblings had inherited. She managed her estate brilliantly and on her death was said to be worth $50 million. Huguette was very eccentric and was considered a recluse. She had a large and prized doll collection and would play all day with her dolls.
One Of Huguette's Last Visits To The New York City Mansion, By Now Being Dwarfed Be Oncoming Commercial Invasion

Huguette sold the furnishings for an additional $3 million and sold to home to developers, who demolished the home and replaced it with an apartment building. Huguette M. Clark died on March 24 2011 at the age of 104.


  1. Despite the criticism the house was one of the grandest and most lavish ever built in NYC. Also the arrangement of rooms on the main floor shows wonderful axial flow and linear connections between spaces. The different shapes and sizes and configurations add great interest and appeal and walking from the dining toom to the grand salon had to be astonishing and even more so had you manuevered through the conservatory, morning room and petite salon. Spectacular home. amazing exterior. So sad it is gone.

    1. It was an amazing home and what was even more astonishing was that the mansion only lasted about 25 years, even though it costed some $7 million And was built to last for ages. It is indeed sad that it was demolished.

  2. Hi, first.. excuse me for my bad english, i'm speaking french..

    I discover where the ceiling of the dining room of the senator clark is. this amazing ceiling is in a mansion not far from new york. the mansion in question is Greystone Court. see the site some paneling of `petit salon` were in this house too. the ballroom and library of Greystone court feature the wood ceiling of clark mansion. thanks..

  3. Do you have the back facade photo?

  4. re: " Huguette ... on her death was said to be worth $50 million. "

    Worth over $300 million (after having given millions away during her lifetime).

  5. re: "Huguette was very eccentric and was considered a recluse."

    Her father was eccentric, and because he was "new wealth" he was shunned by many "old wealth" society (e.g.., Vanderbilts, etc.) His family was also the target of IMMENSE ridicule & scrutiny - b/c of his immense show of wealth and also b/c his 2nd marriage was to his "teenage ward". WAC had 2 kids w/ her - Huguette & Andree, and WAC was 67yo when Huguette was born.

    Huguette had a very sensitive personality. She loved literature & art - collecting and doing. Most likely she would be considered high functioning autistic: highly anxious in unfamiliar social situations.

    She wasn't eccentric - just was very sensitive/anxious around normal people, but esp the millions who harshly scrutinized & ridiculed her and her family.

    She had very small circle of friends, and gave away millions to those who were kind to her and in need, but she was never eccentric.

  6. re: "Huguette had a large and prized doll collection and would play all day with her dolls."

    The dolls are rare French, porcelain, ivory type of COLLECTOR series - not for play; tens/hundreds of thousands of dollars EACH.

    The collection is worth a millions, and is now at an art museum/foundation.

  7. In the 1990s, when Huguette was living in the hospital, she was a significant contributor to the $1 million restoration of the Salon DorĂ©. That luxurious pure gold gilded chamber had been removed from an 18th-century French palace to her father’s Fifth Avenue mansion, then rebuilt in the Corcoran Art Museum.

  8. What about her Stratovarius violin Her lawyer sold a few years back For 10 million dollars

  9. Read "Empty Mansions" Fascinating!

  10. Hello - all very entertaining.

    Huguette's father, Senator Clark, better known as 'Knobby Clark,' was a bold-faced thief. He and friends like James J. Hill believed that the mineral and timber wealth of the American West, our nation's lands, should be theirs for the taking. And took they did.

    They had bitter fights with President Roosevelt, who outraged them by working to set aside important natural wonders for the American People.

    President Roosevelt thought he'd left the baby National Forest Service, and land conservation, in President Taft’s capable hands. To his disgust, he soon realized that Taft had no backbone whatsoever, and he was happy to hand lands over to Clark’s and Hill’s mining and clear-cutting development. When criticized, President Taft fled to his yacht and mountains of food.

    Please read the book, 'The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America,' by Timothy Egan. It is an account of greed, a Great President, and a genuinely frightening account of the Great Fire, the 'Big Blowup,' in the Bitterroot Mountains in 1910.

  11. Reading the book now amazing she lived quite a loanly life though.

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