Alice Claypoole Gwynne

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Alice Claypoole Gwynne Vanderbilt
Mrs Vanderbilt ElectricLight.jpg
Alice Claypoole Gwynne as "The Electric Light" at a costume ball on March 26, 1883
Born Alice Claypoole Gwynne
November 26, 1845
Cincinnati, Ohio
Died April 22, 1934 (aged 88)
New York City
Spouse(s) Cornelius Vanderbilt II
Children Alice Gwynne Vanderbilt
William Henry Vanderbilt II
Cornelius Vanderbilt III
Gertrude Vanderbilt
Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt
Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt
Gladys Moore Vanderbilt
Parent(s) Abraham Evan Gwynne
Rachel Moore Flagg

Alice Claypoole Gwynne Vanderbilt (November 26, 1845 – April 22, 1934) was the wife of Cornelius Vanderbilt II and reigned as the matriarch of the Vanderbilt Family for over 60 years.


Alice was born and raised in Cincinnati to lawyer Abraham Evan Gwynne and Rachel Moore Flagg. She met Cornelius Vanderbilt II, the eldest son of William Henry Vanderbilt and Maria Louisa Kissam, while teaching Sunday school at St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church. They married there in 1867. She and her husband had four sons and three daughters.[1]

Alice was responsible for constructing several massive family houses, including the enlargement of 1 West 57th Street, making it the largest private residence to ever be built in an American city. She also played a role in constructing the massive summer "cottage", The Breakers, in Newport, Rhode Island. Her affection to Newport was as such because many of her earliest colonial ancestors were from the city. An early ancestor was Roger Williams, who founded the State of Rhode Island as well as former Rhode Island Governor Samuel Ward, Sr.. Many Flagg family members are buried in Newport's Island Cemetery.[1]

In 1914, she was responsible for the construction of the Gwynne Building in Cincinnati, Ohio, site of the first shop of Procter & Gamble, later the company's headquarters.[1] Alice Gwynne Vanderbilt died in New York City at the age of 88 in 1934. Gladys Moore Vanderbilt Széchenyi inherited both The Breakers in Newport, Rhode Island, and her mother's second New York townhouse located at 1 East 67th Street (the former George Jay Gould, Sr. residence). Gertrude received the proceeds from the sale of 1 West 57th Street (sold in 1925) totaling $7,000,000 while son Neily received ownership of the Gwynne Building in Cincinnati, Ohio.[1]


Alice donated to various charitable causes. Throughout her life she was a large supporter of the YMCA, Salvation Army, Red Cross, Trinity Church and St. Bartholomew's Church[disambiguation needed]. She and her husband donated Vanderbilt Hall to Yale College in memory of their eldest son, Bill, a student there when he died in 1892. She gave the front gates to her former mansion on Fifth Avenue to be placed in Central Park. Mrs. Vanderbilt also donated a facility to Newport Hospital in 1903 in memory of her husband, Cornelius.

Children of Alice and Cornelius Vanderbilt[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Arthur T. Vanderbilt II (1989). Fortune's Children: The Fall of the House of Vanderbilt. New York: Morrow. ISBN 0-688-07279-8. 

See also[edit]