Archer Milton Huntington

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Archer M. Huntington
Archer Huntington.png
Huntington c. 1900
Born(1870-03-10)10 March 1870
Died11 December 1955(1955-12-11) (aged 85)
Spouse(s)Anna Hyatt Huntington
Board of Trustees of the Heye Foundation in 1920, from left to right are: Minor Cooper Keith, James Bishop Ford, George Gustav Heye, Frederic Kimber Seward, F. Kingsbury Curtis, Samuel Riber, Jr., Archer Milton Huntington, and Harmon Washington Hendricks.

Archer Milton Huntington (March 10, 1870 – December 11, 1955) was the son of Arabella (née Duval) Huntington and the adopted, possibly biological, son of railroad magnate and industrialist Collis P. Huntington. A lifelong friend of the academy and the arts, he is known for his scholarly works in the field of Hispanic Studies and for founding The Hispanic Society of America in New York City, as well as his many contributions to the American Geographical Society.[1][2]

He was also a major benefactor of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Numismatic Society, which he convinced to relocate next to the Hispanic Society and the Geographical Society at the Beaux Arts Audubon Terrace complex in upper Manhattan. In 1932, he and sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington, then his wife, founded the Brookgreen Gardens sculpture center in South Carolina; and the Mariners' Museum, which is one of the largest maritime museums in the world, in Newport News, Virginia, a new independent city that was established in the late 19th century largely though the efforts of his adopted father Collis P. Huntington.

Hispanic studies[edit]

Huntington is primarily known for his scholarly works in the field of Hispanic Studies and for founding The Hispanic Society of America in New York City. The society, founded in 1904, is a museum and rare books library whose collections of Hispanic materials are unrivaled outside Spain.

Spanish impressionist painter Joaquin Sorolla met Huntington in England in 1908. Huntington soon made him a member of the Hispanic Society, and invited him to exhibit there in 1909. This grand exhibition comprised 356 paintings, 195 of which sold. Sorolla spent five months in America and painted more than twenty portraits.[3]

Ayamonte or La pesca del atún (1919). This is the last of Joaquin Sorolla's 14 murals completed for the Hispanic Society in Manhattan.

In 1911, Huntington contracted with Sorolla to paint 14 magnificent murals that came to be known as Vision of Spain. These are considered to be the major commission of Sorolla's career.[4] His enormous canvases hang in the Sorolla Room of the Hispanic Society building in Manhattan; the room was opened in 1926 following Sorolla's death. A major restoration of this room was completed in 2010.[5] During the restoration of the Sorolla Room, the murals toured major art museums in Spain.

Shortly after 1920, Huntington launched the careers of six art historians in the Hispanic field: Elizabeth du Gué Trapier, Beatrice Gilman Proske, Alice Wilson Frothingham, Florence Lewis May, Eleanor Sherman Font, and Clara Louisa Penney, with three in particular (Proske, Frothingham, and May) creating the seminal works in their fields.[6]

Huntington's wife, Anna Hyatt Huntington, sculpted the bronze statues and limestone bas-reliefs that stand outside the entrance to the Hispanic Society building.

The American Geographical Society[edit]

Archer Huntington became a Fellow of the American Geographical Society in 1894 and a Councilor in 1904, the same year he founded the Hispanic Society of America. In 1907, Huntington was elected President of the American Geographical Society.[7] Huntington donated land on Audubon Terrace to the AGS in 1911 and “contributed the greater part of the cost of construction” for the new building himself; Huntington also provided generous financial assistance to the AGS throughout his tenure as member.[7]

Huntington was one of the Society's most influential leaders; he provided new facilities which enabled the AGS to expand its “staff, collections, and activities,” arranged for the AGS to conduct a transcontinental excursion for geographers around the world in 1912, balanced the Society's budget, expanded its library, coordinated a collaboration between the AGS and the Association of American Geographers, and selected Isaiah Bowman as the first Director of the American Geographical Society.[7]

Huntington was also responsible for the acquisition of the American Geographical Society Library's oldest world map: the Leardo Mappamundi.[8] Huntington donated the 15th century map to the AGS of NY in 1906 and the map now resides in the American Geographical Society Library at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. In a letter honoring Huntington after his death in 1955, the Society stated that Huntington would be remembered for his work bringing many institutions together with “academic dignity and repose.”  [9]


In 1915, Huntington donated land on which the American Academy of Arts and Letters could construct a permanent New York City home.[10] He also donated land and funds to relocate the Numismatic Society and the Museum of the American Indian to Audubon Terrace, the same complex that housed Huntington's many other beloved organizations.

The Huntingtons' Brookgreen Gardens, the setting with sculpture 'Athlete' by Rudulph Evans (1915).

In 1932 he donated land and helped to create Brookgreen Gardens in South Carolina, a public sculpture garden in which to display the figurative sculpture works of American sculptors, including many pieces by Anna Hyatt Huntington. A portion of Brookgreen Gardens is a nature reserve, and another section is leased to the state for Huntington Beach State Park. The gardens, historic plantation sites, and their adjacent residence 'Atalaya Castle' are a National Historic Landmark, and on the National Register of Historic Places.[11]

In that same year, working with Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company president Homer L. Ferguson, Huntington founded the Mariners' Museum in Newport News, Virginia, one of the largest maritime museums in the world.

In 1936, Huntington created an endowment which established an annual stipend for a Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, now officially the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. In 2006, this stipend amounted to $40,000 per year, including a $35,000 salary and $5,000 in travel expenses.[12]

From 1932-39, the Huntingtons donated what was to become the 15,000 acre Archer Milton Huntington and Anna Hyatt Huntington Wildlife Forest in Newcomb, New York, now part of the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry.[13][14]

In 1939, the Huntingtons donated their mansion at 1083 Fifth Avenue and adjacent properties between 89th & 90th Streets to the National Academy, the oldest artists' organization in the United States. The property is home to the National Academy Museum and Art School.[15]


Archer Huntington's family included several prominent cousins. The New York City architect Charles P. Huntington included.[16] His cousin Henry E. Huntington founded the renowned The Huntington Library, Art Museums,and Botanical Gardens in California.


Archer Huntington married twice. On August 6, 1895, he married Helen Manchester Gates, the daughter of Rev. Isaac E. Gates and Ellen M. H. Gates, a poet and the sister of Archer's adopted father Collis P. Huntington. Like her mother, Helen was a writer. Archer and Helen were temporarily detained and effectively under arrest by German authorities in Nuremberg, Bavaria, at the outbreak of World War I in August 1914 due to suspicions that Archer, a representative of the American Geographical Society, was a spy. Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan appealed for their release through diplomatic channels.[17] Archer and Helen had no children and divorced in 1918.

Archer married sculptor Anna Hyatt on March 10, 1923, and they founded Brookgreen Gardens sculpture center and nature reserve near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, in 1931.[11] Her large scale sculptures adorn the Audubon Terrace at the Hispanic Society of America in New York City. March 10 was both his and his wife's birthday. They then called March 10 "3 in 1 day" and it is still celebrated at Atalaya and Brookgreen Gardens in South Carolina. Archer and Anna had no children.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Huntington, Archer Milton". Who's Who. Vol. 59. 1907. p. 899.
  3. ^ Peel, Edmund: The Painter Joaquin Sorolla, Philip Wilson Publishers, Ltd., 1989, pp. 246-247
  4. ^ "The Provinces of Spain". Media Center for Art History at Columbia University. Retrieved 21 April 2013.
  5. ^ Burke, Marcus. "A Collection in Context: The Hispanic Society of America". Media Center for Art History at Columbia University. Retrieved 21 April 2013. These murals can be seen in detail online at this Web site. In the First Floor map at the upper right, click on the blue dot in the left-most empty room -- which shows the whole Sorolla Room.
  6. ^ "History". Hispanic Society of America. 2015-06-19. Retrieved 2019-11-01.
  7. ^ a b c Wright, John Kirtland (1952). Geography in the Making: The American Geographical Society 1851-1951. New York: The American Geographical Society. pp. 145. ISBN 1258469871.
  8. ^ "Leardo Mappamundi 1452 | UWM Libraries". Retrieved 2019-06-14.
  9. ^ "Huntington, Archer M. (1907-1911), scroll honoring Huntington, 1955". Retrieved 2019-06-14.
  10. ^ "Huntington Gives Site for Academy; Men of Arts and Letters to Erect Building Near Riverside Drive and 155th St. Next to Hispanic Museum; National Institute and American Academy Accept Offer of Eight City Lots for Site," New York Times. January 25, 1915.
  11. ^ a b The Gullah Culture: "History of Brookgreen Gardens" Archived July 16, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "Librarian of Congress Appoints Donald Hall Poet Laureate".
  13. ^ Communications, SUNY-ESF Office of. "SUNY-ESF Web".
  14. ^ Communications, SUNY-ESF Office of. "SUNY-ESF Web".
  15. ^ "History — National Academy Museum". National Academy. Archived from the original on 22 July 2013. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  16. ^ Charles P. Huntington; of 18 West 31st Street, New York City.
  17. ^ "Ships for Tourists will be Chartered," NY Evening Post, Aug. 12, 1914.
  18. ^ Archer Milton Worsham Huntington genealogy

External links[edit]