Neltje Doubleday Kings

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Neltje Doubleday Kings, also known as Neltje (born 1934), is an American artist and philanthropist. In 2005 Neltje Kings received the Wyoming Governor's Art Award for her artwork; she is an abstract painter.

She has also created a variety of awards and programs to encourage writing and the arts. In the 1980s she funded the annual Neltje Blanchan Literary Award in honor of her paternal grandmother, a writer of books about gardens and birds. In 2001 she created the private Jentel Foundation to support artists' residencies on her property in Banner, Wyoming. Renovations and new construction have created facilities to enlarge the Jentel program, available to writers and visual artists for short-stay residencies eleven months of the year.

In 2010, Neltje made an estate gift to the University of Wyoming, which it says is the largest in its history. It consists of her ranch, studio, art collection, and financial holdings. When the gift is realized, the university will base the US Neltje Center for the Visual and Literary Arts at her ranch, creating a center for collaboration among three university departments.

Early life and education[edit]

Born Neltje Doubleday in 1934, she is the daughter of Ellen MCarter and Nelson Doubleday, and has an older brother Nelson Doubleday, Jr. The siblings were born in New York City; they grew up in Oyster Bay, Long Island. The family also spent time in South Carolina. Nelson and Neltje attended private schools.

Their paternal grandparents were Neltje Blanchan De Greff and Frank N. Doubleday; their grandfather was the founder of the United States Doubleday publishing company. Their grandmother wrote books on gardens and birds. Their maternal grandfather Thomas McCarter was head of the New Jersey Public Service Commission and a benefactor of Princeton University.

Marriage and family[edit]

In May 1953 at the age of 18, Neltje married John Turner Sargent, Sr., then 28 and already working at the Doubleday Company.[1][2] They had a daughter Ellen and son John Turner Sargent, Jr.[2] Sargent was promoted to leadership positions at Doubleday, where he later served as president and chairman.

After the couple divorced in 1965, Neltje moved with her young children to Wyoming.[2] They also continued to see their father in New York. She started to draw at the age of 30 and became increasingly involved in making art.

By 1967, she married a Mr. Kings, an artist; they divorced after six years.


Neltje Doubleday left New York and moved to Banner, Wyoming, where in 1966 she bought a 440-acre ranch on Lower Piney Creek. She has since added to the property for cattle ranching and hay production. She operates the working ranch in part for preservation of historic and land resources; the original stone house was built soon after the Spanish-American War.[3] There she has gradually built her art career, learning to paint and working in a variety of materials, including sculpting.

Sheridan Inn, photo in 2008

In 1967, the heiress bought the Sheridan Inn in Sheridan, Wyoming to save it from destruction; the property was a National Historic Landmark that had been condemned because of deterioration.[4][5] She renovated parts of it, and in 1968, "re-opened the Inn’s saloon, which was followed a year later by the re-opening of the dining room, the Ladies Parlor and the Wyoming Room, an all new addition to the Inn."[5] It was renewed as part of community life of the city. She owned and operated it for 18 years. Working in every aspect of its operations, she also added a gift shop and art gallery to the hotel interior.[6] The inn has been owned since 1990 by the Sheridan Heritage Center, Inc.[7]

In her art, Neltje has concentrated on painting abstract works. She is represented by galleries and her work is held in numerous private collections and museums, including the Smithsonian Institution; Wyoming State Museum, Cheyenne; and Yellowstone Art Museum, Billings, Montana.[8] In 2005 she received the Wyoming Governor's Art Award.[9]

In addition to creating her own artwork, Neltje has endowed and organized programs to encourage other artists and writers: she established the private Jentel Foundation in 2001 to manage an artist's residency in buildings on her ranch grounds. In 2010 she made an estate gift to the University of Wyoming for future use of her ranch and studio as an arts center. (See below).


In January 2001 Neltje created the private Jentel Foundation, to support and manage artists' residencies at the ranch. Following the first pilot residencies of writers in 2001, the foundation had undertaken both renovation of existing buildings and new construction to create additional facilities to support the Jentel program. The program has expanded to admit artists and writers for short-stay residencies which run eleven months of the year. Applications are taken twice a year.[10]

In 2010, Neltje made an estate gift of her ranch, art collection and financial holdings to the University of Wyoming. When realized, her gift will create the UW Neltje Center for the Visual and Literary Arts, combining programs of three of the university's departments: creative writing, arts, and the art museum. It is the largest estate gift in the university's history.[9]

Legacy and honors[edit]

  • With the Wyoming Arts Council, which she led from 1985 to 1988, Neltje established and endowed a literary award in honor of her paternal grandmother, Neltje Blanchan (her pen name).[9]
  • In 2005, Neltje Doubleday Kings received the Governor's Art Award as one of Wyoming's "preeminent artists."[9]
  • She has received an honorary degree from Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Montana.[9]
  • In 2010, Neltje made an estate gift of her ranch, studio, art collection and financial holdings to the University of Wyoming, the largest in university history.[9]


  1. ^ "Neltje DOUBLEDAY; Late Publisher's Daughter Is Bride of John T. Sargent in Christ Episcopal Church", The New York Times, p. 91, May 17, 1953
  2. ^ a b c Bruce Weber, "John Sargent Former Doubleday President Dies at 87", New York Times, February 8, 2012, accessed April 14, 2012
  3. ^ "History: Jentel Artist Residency Program", Official Website, accessed April 19, 2012
  4. ^ Zeke Scher, "The Lady Who Saved the Inn", Denver Post, December 14, 1969, p. 16
  5. ^ a b "The History of the Sheridan Inn", Sheridan Inn Website, accessed April 16, 2012
  6. ^ Stephen Lissandrello (December 20, 1975). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Sheridan Inn" (pdf). National Park Service.  and Accompanying 5 photos, exterior and interior, from 1975 and undated PDF (32 KB)
  7. ^ "Sheridan Inn". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved February 29, 2008. 
  8. ^ "Resume" Neltje Official Website, accessed April 19, 2012
  9. ^ a b c d e f "Gift will create powerhouse arts center", UWYO, Fall 2010 
  10. ^ "About", Jentel Artist Residency Program, Official Website, accessed April 14, 2012

External links[edit]