Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sophia Sherman 146th Birthday

Happy 146th Birthday Sophia! Today, 146 years ago, Sophia Brown was born to John
Carter Brown and his wife Sophia Browne. This outspoken woman, later to marry 
William Watts Sherman, though small in stature, weighed a whopping 270 pounds! 
So heavy was the weight of her flesh that she had to have a special water balanced-elevator
installed in her Newport mansion, known as the William Watts Sherman House, to help
her get to the second and third floors, what a lady!

Socialite and Heiress. Daughter of John Carter Brown (1797-1874) and Sophia Browne Brown (1825-1909); favorite granddaughter of Nicholas Brown II, founder of Brown University and Head of The Brown Family Dynasty for three generations. Last wife and longtime widow of William Watts Sherman (1942-1912), a New York City businessman who for fifty years served as treasurer of the Newport Casino. Known for her commanding and brashly outspoken personality; she could instantly be unusually kind and caring. Weighing an enormous 270 pounds ~ she had a special water lift of equal size designed and built for her beloved Newport residence to help her get up the three flights of floors. The fiery duster of enormous physical weight disdained the press and photographers, applying on a heavy thick veil and hat whenever she left her mansion. Raised in a strict Episcopalian family, she was an intense Bible basher ~ insisting that music, alcohol, tobacco, divorce, shouting and flirtation were all sins. Naturally eccentric since her early days, she never drank anything but mineral water. Like many of the gothic victorian homes she lived in as a girl, she filled her home to the brink with over-gilded furniture and antiques. Being helped everywhere by a large gilded cane and two burly attendants; she rarely left her Newport home, if ever going to her townhouse at the corner of 838 Fifth Avenue. Her Newport home, known as 'Sherman Villa', designed and built by H. H. Richardson, encompassed over thirty rooms and fifteen guest bedrooms. In the 1930's, with dancing becoming the new fashion, she hired Newport architect Dudley Newton to design and construct a heavily-gilded ballroom wing onto the side of her mansion. Living another seventeen years at her Newport villa, she died of a three-year illness at her beloved Newport home, being buried next to her elderly husband at Island Cemetery in Newport, Rhode Island.

What a lady! 
Biography, Courtesy of FindAGrave;
Written and Complied by Tyler Y. Hughes.


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