August Heckscher

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August Heckscher
Portrait of August Heckscher.jpg
Born (1848-08-26)August 26, 1848
Died April 26, 1941(1941-04-26) (aged 92)
Mountain Lake, Florida, United States
Spouse(s) Anna P. Atkins (1859-1924)
Virginia Henry Curtiss
Children Gustave M. Heckscher (1884-1967)
Antoinette Heckscher (1887-?)
Parent(s) Johan Gustav Wilhelm Moritz Heckscher (1797-1865) and Marie Antoinette Brautigan

August Heckscher (August 26, 1848 – April 26, 1941) was a capitalist and philanthropist.


Born in Hamburg, Germany, Heckscher immigrated to the United States in 1867. He initially worked in his cousin Richard Heckscher's coal mining operation as a laborer, studying English at night. Several years later he formed a partnership with his cousin under the name of Richard Heckscher & Company. The firm was eventually sold to the Reading Railroad. Heckscher then turned to zinc mining and organized the Zinc and Iron Company, becoming vice-president and general manager. In 1897, it was consolidated with other zinc and iron companies into the New Jersey Zinc Company with Heckscher serving as the general manager.

Heckscher eventually became a multimillionaire and a philanthropist. He started The Heckscher Foundation for Children and created playgrounds in lower Manhattan and in Central Park. The Heckscher Playground in Central Park is the park's largest playground. He created Heckscher Park in the town of Huntington and created the Heckscher Museum of Art. The State of New York purchased nearly 1,500 acres in East Islip with money donated by Heckscher to create Heckscher State Park, made famous for hosting summer concerts for 35 years of the New York Philharmonic.

He married Anna P. Atkins (1859-1924) in 1881.[1] In 1930 he married Virginia Henry Curtiss (ca. 1885-1941) at Croton-on-Hudson. She was the widow of Edwin Burr Curtiss, of A. G. Spalding Bros. and she was 27 years younger than Heckscher.[2][3] August Heckscher died on April 26, 1941 in Mountain Lake, Florida[4][5] and left his widow $10,000 and all his real estate.[6] She died on July 11, 1941.[2] No legatee could be found that was named in her will and the probate court declared an earlier copy of the will as valid.[7]


Hecksher's son Gustave Maurice Heckscher became an aviation pioneer and California real estate investor in the early 1900s.

Heckscher's daughter Antoinette (1888-1965) married British aristocrat and architect Capt. Oliver Sylvain Baliol Brett, 3rd Viscount Esher, FRIBA, FRSL, MBE, GBE, son of Reginald Brett, 2nd Viscount Esher.

His grandson August Heckscher II (1913–1997), served as President John F. Kennedy's Special Consultant on the Arts, the first White House cultural adviser, 1962–63, as well New York City Mayor John Lindsay's Parks Commissioner, 1967, amongst other highlights in a wide-ranging career and life.[8]


  1. ^ Yearbook of the Encyclopedia Americana. Encyclopedia Americana. 1942. He was twice married, to Anna Atkins in 1881, who died in 1924, and to Mrs. Virginia Henry Curtiss in 1930 ... 
  2. ^ a b "Mrs. A. Heckscher, Philanthropist, 66. Widow of Real Estate Man Dies in Penthouse Home in Office Building". New York Times. July 11, 1941. Retrieved 2009-11-27. 
  3. ^ "Heckscher, 81, Weds Mrs. V. H. Curtiss, 55. Philanthropist Quietly Married to Widow of E. B. Curtiss at Croton Last Wednesday. Bride, a Close Friend of His First Wife, Has Been Associated With Him in Child Welfare Work. Wed in Parsonage. Born in Hamburg in 1848.". New York Times. July 8, 1930. Retrieved 2009-11-25. August Heckscher, millionaire real estate operator and philanthropist, and Mrs. Virginia Henry Curtiss of New York and Greenwich, Conn., were married last Wednesday in Croton-on-Hudson, but their marriage did not become known to any but their closest friends until ... 
  4. ^ "Heckscher Dies, Noted Financier. Came to U. S. as Immigrant. Worked First as Laborer. Became Philanthropist. Philanthropist Dies At 92. Was Long Ill". Associated Press in the Hartford Courant. April 27, 1941. Retrieved 2009-11-25. August Heckscher, 92-years-old New York capitalist and philanthropist, died at his Mountain Lake home here today after a long illness. 
  5. ^ "August Heckscher Dies In Sleep At 92. Philanthropist, Real Estate and Steel Operator Was in Florida Home. Philanthropist Dead August Heckscher Dies In Sleep At 92". New York Times. April 27, 1941. Retrieved 2009-11-28. August Heckscher, real estate and steel operator, banker and philanthropist, died at his Winter home at Mountain Lake, near here, at 2:40 P. M. today. Death came suddenly in his sleep. He was 92 years old. ... In July of 1930, at the age of 81, he married Mrs. Virginia Henry Curtiss, ... 
  6. ^ "Heckscher Estate Is Left To Family; Widow Gets Realty, $10,000. Half Interest in Residue Shared With Son. No Gifts Go To Charity. Philanthropist Explains These Were Made During Life. Cash Bequests $28,000". New York Times. May 4, 1941. Retrieved 2009-11-28. Members of the family of August Heckscher, real estate operator and philanthropist, will receive the greater part of his estate, it became known yesterday when his will was filed in Surrogate's Court. Mr. Heckscher, who was 92 years old, died on April 26 at Mountain Lake, Fla. 
  7. ^ "No Heckscher Kin Found. Executor Seeks Earlier Will to Dispose of Estate Residue". New York Times. July 19, 1941. Retrieved 2009-11-28. When the will of Mrs. Virginia Henry Curtiss Heckscher, widow of August Heckscher, the philanthropist, was filed for probate in Surrogate's Court yesterday, ... 
  8. ^ Pace, Eric (April 7, 1997). "August Heckscher, 83, Dies; Advocate for Parks and Arts". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-11-25. August Heckscher, a Parks Commissioner under Mayor John V. Lindsay who was long active in public affairs and as a writer, died on Saturday at New York Hospital. He was 83 and lived on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The cause was heart failure, which he suffered after being admitted to the hospital because he had been having chest pains, his family said.