July 7, 1872
Janesville, Wisconsin, U.S.
|Died||May 1, 1955 (aged 82)|
Cap d'Ail, France
Theodore R. Hostetter
(m. 1891; his death 1902)
Morton Colton Nichols
(m. 1904; div. 1905)
Anson Wood Burchard
(m. 1912; his death 1927)
Prince Heinrich XXXIII
(m. 1929; div. 1935)
Count Pavel de Kotzebue
(m. 1936; her death 1955)
|Parent(s)||Charles Henry Tew|
Janet Smith Tew
Allene Tew was born in Janesville, Wisconsin, on July 7, 1872. Her father, Charles Henry Tew (1849–1925), was a banker in Jamestown, New York, and her mother was Janet (née Smith) Tew (1854–1923).
She was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, which meant she had to show documentation that she was a descendant of someone who fought in the American Revolutionary War. But she may have doctored the evidence in order to encourage Mrs. Astor, the self-proclaimed queen of aristocratic American society at the turn of the century, to accept her as a member of the upper class despite her middle class up bringing, pre-marital pregnancy, and shotgun wedding.
Throughout her lifetime, Allene was married five times. She married her first husband, Theodore Rickey Hostetter (1870–1902), a polo player and yachtsman who was one of the wealthiest men of Pittsburgh, in 1891. Tod, as he was known, was the youngest son of Rosetta (née Rickey) Hostetter and David Hostetter, a prominent businessman and banker. They had apartments in New York City at 8 East 65th Street and several country homes including Raccoon Farm in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, complete with polo grounds and golf links, and a summer house at Narragansett Pier. Together, Tod and Allene were the parents of three children:
- Greta Hostetter (1892–1918), who married Glenn L. Stewart (1884–1957). She had her debut at Sherry's in 1911.
- Verna Hostetter (1893–1895), who died in early childhood.
- Theodore Rickey Hostetter Jr. (1897–1918), who was killed in World War I.
Hostetter died of pneumonia on August 3, 1902 at thirty-two years old. He contracted a cold on his yacht Seneca during a trip to Larchmont, New York to visit his brother Herbert. His estate was valued at $1,349,196, which included shares of the Union Trust Company, the Pennsylvania Gas Goal Company, the Monongahela Coal Company, the Pittsburg, Bessemer and Lake Erie Railroad, and the Hostetter Company, the family firm. After his death, it was reported that Tod had last $1,000,000 in one year because of gambling. Reportedly, "[b]efore he was buried the gamblers who claimed that the young man owed them large sums called upon the widow to effect a settlement."
After Hostetter's death, she remarried to Morton Colton Nichols at St. Thomas's Church by the Rev. Dr. Ernest M. Stires on December 27, 1904. Nichols had previously been rumored to be engaged to Vivien Sartoris, daughter of Nellie Grant and granddaughter of President Ulysses S. Grant. After their honeymoon in Canada, Allene and Morton, a real estate investor with Ladd & Nichols, lived at 3 East 67th Street while their new residence on Park Avenue and 37th Street was being constructed. However, they divorced a year later in 1905 and she resumed the name of Hostetter. In August 1932, Nichols hung himself in a suite at the Pierre Hotel in New York.
Her third husband was Anson Wood Burchard, whom she married on December 4, 1912, in London. Among those present at the wedding were Burchard's best man, Edwin W. Rice, Lord and Lady Greville (Lady Greville, a fellow American, was the former Olive Grace, widow of Henry Kerr), the Comte de Paris, Mrs. Hinsdill Parsons (Anson's sister and the wife of GE's General Counsel), Capt. and the Hon. Mrs. Feilden, among others. At the time of their wedding, Burchard, a son of Walter Howard Burchard, was assistant to the President of General Electric. He later served as a director and vice-chairman of the company. In Manhattan, they were listed in the Social Register and resided at 57 East 64th Street on the Upper East Side, in a townhouse designed by architect C. P. H. Gilbert. In 1925, they purchased 690 Park Avenue from Mrs. Henry P. Davison. In Paris, they resided at 4 Rue d'Aguesseau in the 8th arrondissement.
During their marriage, both of Allene's children who lived to adulthood died within the same week in 1918. Her husband died suddenly at the home of Mortimer L. Schiff on January 22, 1927. His estate was valued in excess of $3,000,000. Burchard's nephew, Seth Rosewater (son of Charles Rosewater, a part owner of the Omaha Bee), changed his last name "to Burchard in order to keep the Burchard name alive" and to inherit the millions left by the elder Burchard.
In October 1928, Prince Heinrich XXXIII Reuss of Köstritz accompanied her to the Moulton musicale celebrating Arthur J. Moulton's restoration of the historic Chateau de la Verrières in Verrières-le-Buisson (formerly owned by the Comte de Lavalette, Napoleon's aide-de-camp in his Italian campaign). Allene had recently purchased a new house at 33 Rue Bardet de Jouy in France, the former residence of the Comtesse de Montebello. In January 1929, she chartered the Indiana, a luxurious houseboat referred to as a "floating palace", to travel up the Nile River in Egypt. Prince Henry, as he was known in the American press, was among her guests, as was Lord Greville and Lady Greville.
On April 10, 1929, she married Prince Henry as her fourth husband in Paris. Capt. Steele, naval attaché of the embassy in Paris, gave the bride in marriage. The guests at the wedding included German Ambassador Prince Henry XXXII and Prince Henry XXXIV. Prince Henry, a member of one of the oldest reigning houses in Europe, was a grandson of Charles Alexander, Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach through his mother Princess Marie. He had been divorced in 1922 from Princess Victoria Margaret of Prussia, niece of German Emperor Wilhelm II. Prince Henry served as an officer in the Second Dragoons Guard, the regiment of the Empress Alexandra of Russia and was in the diplomatic service with the German embassy in Paris. During their marriage, she was known for her entertaining, including throwing a debut party at the Waldorf-Astoria for her stepdaughter, Princess Marie Luise Reuss zu Köstritz in 1932.
Her fifth husband was Capt. Count Pavel de Kotzebue, who was known as Paul de Kotzebue in the American Press, whom she married on March 4, 1936, in Geneva, Switzerland. He was born on February 20, 1884 in Kremenetz and his uncle, Ernst von Kotzebue, was the Russian Ambassador to the U.S. in 1895. It was his first marriage and their guests included Prince Ferdinand de Lippe of Germany, Prince Lobanoff of Lausanne and Colonel Alexander Kotzebue, the Count's brother. In 1940, they bought Beechwood, the former Newport cottage of Caroline Schermerhorn Astor from Mrs. Astor's grandson, Vincent Astor. They entertained extensively in Newport, including an elaborate garden party for the benefit of the Newport Chapter of the American Red Cross.
She negotiated on behalf of Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld leading up to his marriage to princess Juliana of the Netherlands because she was a friend of his mother's (Armgard von Cramm). In 1938, she became godmother to their eldest daughter, princess Beatrix, later Queen of the Netherlands.
She died at her villa in Cap d'Ail on the French Riviera on May 1, 1955, at the age of eighty-two. At the time of her death, her New York residence was 740 Park Avenue, considered to be "the most luxurious and powerful residential building in New York City". After her death, six of her cousins filed claims contesting her $20,113,000 will, which reportedly was the largest filed in Newport Probate Court. Count Kotzbue died in Paris on 13 September 1966.
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- "PRINCESS HENRY FETES DEBUTANTES; Gives Dinner Dance for Princess Marie Louise of Reuss and Miss Lucile Brokaw. EFFECT OF GARDEN GIVEN Australian Tree Ferns, Roses and Chrysanthemums Used in Dec- orations at Waldorf" (PDF). The New York Times. 20 November 1932. Retrieved 15 November 2019.
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- "PRINCESS OF REUSS, AMERICAN, DIVORCED; Wife of Prince Henry XXXIII Was Widow of Anson Wood Burchard of This City" (PDF). The New York Times. 26 June 1935. Retrieved 15 November 2019.
- "PRINCESS OF REUSS IS WED IN GENEVA; She Becomes Bride of Count Paul de Kotzebue in Civil and Religious Nuptials. WEDDING TRIP TO ITALY New York Woman, the Former Allene Tew, Donated Large Fund to Stevens Institute" (PDF). The New York Times. 5 March 1936. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
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- Zeveloff, Julie (December 29, 2011). "740 Park Avenue: Inside The Most Powerful Apartment Building In New York". Business Insider. Retrieved June 19, 2014.
- "$20,113,000 WILL FOUGHT; 6 Cousins Contest Bequests of Countess de Kotzebue" (PDF). The New York Times. 1 September 1955. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
- The Dutch journalist Annejet van der Zijl published a biography of Allene Tew in 2015. The English translation by Michele Hutchison, An American Princess: The Many Lives of Allene Tew followed in 2017. A translation in German is planned for 2018.
- Tew's biography is also covered by Michael Gross in his 2005 book 740 Park: The Story of the World's Richest Apartment Building.
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