John J. Emery

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Jack Emery
John Josiah Emery Jr.

(1898-01-28)January 28, 1898
DiedSeptember 24, 1976(1976-09-24) (aged 78)
EducationGroton School
Alma materHarvard University
Harvard Law School
Trinity College, Oxford
OccupationReal estate developer
Irene Langhorne Gibson
(m. 1926; died 1973)
Adele H. Olyphant
(m. 1975)
Parent(s)John Josiah Emery Sr.
Lela Alexander Emery
RelativesAudrey Emery (sister)
Paul Ilyinsky (nephew)
Mary Emery (aunt)

John Josiah Emery Jr. (January 28, 1898 — September 24, 1976) was an American real estate developer including of the Carew Tower (1931) in Cincinnati, Ohio, at the time the tallest building west of the Alleghenies, and the Netherland Plaza Hotel, opened at the same time. He was a major figure in the city's cultural life for more than four decades.

Early life[edit]

Jack Emery was born in New York City on January 28, 1898. He was the son of John Josiah Emery Sr. (1835–1908), a real-estate millionaire, and Lela (née Alexander) Emery (1867–1953), daughter of General Charles T. Alexander, of Washington. Among his siblings was Audrey Emery, who married the impecunious Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich of Russia; Lela Emery, who married first Capt. Alastair Mackintosh (second husband of Constance Talmadge) and secondly Hély, the Marquis de Talleyrand; and Alexandra,[1] who married Benjamin Moore[2] and Robert Gordon McKay. His paternal grandfather was Thomas Emery, who was born in Bedford, England and settled in Cincinnati in 1832.[3] His maternal grandparents were General Charles Tripler Alexander and Julia (née Barrett) Alexander of St. Paul, Minnesota and Bar Harbor, Maine.[4]

He was raised on the East Coast and in Europe, after his mother married, as her second husband, the Hon. Alfred Anson, a British stockbroker living in New York City, in 1912.[5] Anson was the seventh son of Thomas Anson, 2nd Earl of Lichfield and Lady Harriett Georgiana Hamilton (the eldest daughter of James Hamilton, 1st Duke of Abercorn).[6] As a child and young man, his family moved each year between their houses in New York City (5 East 68th Street), Bar Harbor, Maine (The Turrets, now owned by The College of the Atlantic), Palm Beach (where his mother owned several houses) and Paris and Biarritz, France (where his mother owned a large house, later converted into a school).

Emery prepared at Groton for Harvard, where his education was interrupted by World War I when he served as an ensign in Naval Aviation. After he returned from War, he received his BA degree, cum laude, in 1920. He spent one year at Harvard Law School and then went to Trinity College, Oxford, where received a diploma in Economics in 1922.[7]


His grandfather founded a lard oil and candle business in 1840, known as Emery Candle Company, that his father developed into the Emery Chemical Company, later known as Emery Industries. His grandfather had also assembled sizable real estate holdings in the center of Cincinnati, which was enlarged by Emery's father.[7]

In 1924, Emery, who was planning on going into the publishing business with Cass Canfield, returned to Cincinnati on a visit and stayed to manage what he perceived to be the faltering family business. He proceeded to consolidate the family's real estate holdings into several blocks in downtown Cincinnati. The real estate company, Thomas Emery's Sons,[8] built the first substantial apartment houses in Cincinnati as well as numerous other buildings downtown (Mercantile Library Building, The Cincinnatian Hotel and others) and in the immediately adjacent hills.[9]

Gourmet Room at the Terrace Plaza Hotel, with mural commissioned from Miro

After World War II, Thomas Emery's Sons built the Terrace Plaza Hotel, designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, placing the hotel lobby on the eighth floor, reached by elevators that by-passed the commercial floors.[10] For the hotel he commissioned three works of art that passed to the Cincinnati Art Museum when he sold the Terrace Plaza: a mural by Joan Miró commissioned for the hotel's Gourmet Room, a cartoon mural by Saul Steinberg and a giant mobile by Alexander Calder.[7]

He was a founder of the Cincinnati Country Day School, a leading trustee and important benefactor of the Cincinnati Art Museum. He served as vice-president of the Boy Scouts of America in the Cincinnati area,[11] and was an original member of the Cincinnati Public Recreation Commission. He was a trustee of the Children's Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Summer Opera, the Conservatory of Music and the Taft Museum of Art, as well as a trustee of the National Cultural Center in Washington, D.C.[7]

Personal life[edit]

In 1926, he married Irene Langhorne (née Gibson) Post (1897–1973).[12] Irene was the daughter of the celebrated illustrator Charles Dana Gibson and the niece of Lady Astor, the first woman elected to the British Parliament. Irene was the mother of George B. Post IV and Nancy Langhorne Post from her first marriage to George B. Post III (grandson of the architect George B. Post). Together, John and Irene were the parents of four children, all born in Cincinnati:[13]

  • Irene Emery (1927–2017),[14] who married painter Robert Perkins Goodale at the Académie Julian art school in Paris, in 1946.
  • Lela Emery (1929–2006),[15] who married John F. Steele (b. 1924) in 1967.[16]
  • Melissa Emery (1933–1999), who married Lloyd Addison Lanier (1924–2002) in 1953.[17]
  • Ethan Emery (1937-2021),[18] a 1959 graduate of Harvard who married Liliane Solmsen in 1962.[19][20]

After his first wife's death in 1973, he remarried to widow Adele Sloane (née Hammond) Olyphant (1902–1998)[21] on December 3, 1975.[22] Adele, a member of the Vanderbilt family, was the sister of record producer John Hammond,[23] the daughter of Emily Vanderbilt Sloane, a granddaughter of Emily Thorn Vanderbilt and William Douglas Sloane, and a great-granddaughter of William Henry Vanderbilt.[24] Adele was also the grandmother of actor Timothy Olyphant.[25]

Emery died on September 24, 1976, and is buried at the Indian Hill Church near Cincinnati.


Emery and his family spent summers in Dark Harbor, Maine on Seven Hundred Acre Island, where his father-in-law, Charles Dana Gibson, had built a house beginning in 1904. During those summers, the children were tutored in preparation for school, including daughter Lela who prior to leaving home for the Foxcroft School in 1944 was tutored by Connie Frazer at their homes at Peterloon and on Seven Hundred Acre Island.[26]

In 1929, he began constructing his 1,200-acre (4.9 km2) estate, Peterloon immediately north of Indian Hill, then a rural outer suburb of Cincinnati to which some affluent citizens of Cincinnati, Ohio were moving in search of a country life-style. Indian Hill of the 1930s revolved around the Camargo Club and the Camargo Hunt.[27] Since his death, much of Peterloon has been divided into housing lots, leaving the neo-Georgian brick house on 72 acres (290,000 m2) as an event destination owned by The Peterloon Foundation. The house was designed by Delano and Aldrich of New York, who also designed a five-bedroom stucco cottage nearby, in which the Emery family could live while the Peterloon house was being built.[28][29]

Awards and honors[edit]

Emery was the recipient of the "Great Living Cincinnatian" award from The Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce; the William Booth Award from the Salvation Army; the "President's Award for Excellence" from the University of Cincinnati. He also received an honorary Doctor of Music degree from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and a Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Cincinnati.[7]


  1. ^ "DANCE FOR MISS EMERY; Hon. Mrs. Alfred Anson Also Gives Dinner for Debutante Daughter" (PDF). The New York Times. 23 December 1913. Retrieved 9 April 2019.
  2. ^ "COUNT BEUF MARRIES MISS EDITH CANDLER; Count Tito Beuf His Son's Best Man at Ceremony in St. Patrick's Cathedral. ALEXANDRA EMERY, BRIDE Daughter of the Hon. Mrs. Alfred Anson Weds Benjamin Moore in St. Bartholomew's Church" (PDF). The New York Times. 10 December 1920. Retrieved 9 April 2019.
  3. ^ "The Emery Family | 175 Years of History". Emery Oleochemicals. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  4. ^ "Mrs. Alfred Anson" (PDF). The New York Times. 16 July 1953. Retrieved 9 April 2019.
  5. ^ "MRS. J. J. EMERY MARRIES; Widow Weds Hon. Alfred Anson In St. Bartholomew's Chapel" (PDF). The New York Times. 2 July 1912. Retrieved 9 April 2019.
  6. ^ "CAPT. ALFRED ANSON; Seventh Son of the Second Earl of Lichfield Dies at 68" (PDF). The New York Times. 25 March 1944. Retrieved 9 April 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d e "John Josiah Emery". University of Cincinnati. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  8. ^ "Biographical Directory of Cincinnati Architects, 1788-1940: Emery family". Architectural Foundation of Cincinnati. Archived from the original on 25 July 2009. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  9. ^ The Cincinnati Post obituary editorial, quoted in University of Cincinnati): John Josiah Emery
  10. ^ Tubb, Shawn Patrick (2013). Cincinnati's Terrace Plaza Hotel: An Icon of American Modernism. BookBaby. ISBN 9780989427142. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  11. ^ The Scouting jamborees in the area, long hosted at Peterloon, are still called "Peterloons".
  12. ^ "Mrs. John J. Emery" (PDF). The New York Times. 2 August 1973. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  13. ^ Cincinnati Post, obituary, Nancy Post Magro, April 15, 2003; University of Cincinnati): John Josiah Emery
  14. ^ "GOODALE, Irene Emery". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. April 9, 2017. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  15. ^ "A Daughter to Mrs. John J. Emery" (PDF). The New York Times. 1 March 1929. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  16. ^ "Four from health care, business named Great Living Cincinnatians by Cincinnati USA chamber". November 19, 2017. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  17. ^ "Miss Melissa Emery Married in Cincinnati To Lloyd A. Lanier, Law School Alumnus" (PDF). The New York Times. 21 June 1953. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  18. ^ "Emery, Ethan". Boston Globe. April 6, 2021. Retrieved 21 May 2021.
  19. ^ "Emery-Solmsen Wedding in New York". The Cincinnati Enquirer. November 19, 1962. p. 35. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  20. ^ "Liliane Solmsen Becomes Bride Of Ethan Emery; Radclffe Alumna Wed to Harvard Graduate at St. James Church" (PDF). The New York Times. 18 November 1962. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  21. ^ "Paid Notice: Deaths EMERY, ADELE HAMMOND OLYPHANT". The New York Times. 7 November 1998. Retrieved 25 July 2017.
  22. ^ MacDowell, Dorothy Kelly (1989). Commodore Vanderbilt and his family: a biographical account of the Descendants of Cornelius and Sophia Johnson Vanderbilt. D.K. MacDowell. p. 112. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  23. ^ Hammond, John; Townsend, Irving (1981). John Hammond on record: an autobiography. Penguin Books. pp. 23–24. ISBN 9780140057058. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  24. ^ "ADELE S. HAMMOND WEDS J.K. OLYPHANT; A Special Train Takes Guests to Ceremony in St. Matthew's Church, Bedford. FATHER ESCORTS THE BRIDE Many Notables of Society Attend Reception at the Hammond City Home". The New York Times. 6 February 1927. Retrieved 25 July 2017.
  25. ^ Times, Special To The New York (6 October 1973). "JOHN OLYPHANT JR., HANOVER BANK AIDE". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 July 2017.
  26. ^ Interview with Constance Fraser, Sept 4, 2011, Berkeley, CA.
  27. ^ Birmingham, Stephen (September 1984). "Cincinnati's Horsey Set". Cincinnati Magazine. Emmis Communications: 34. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  28. ^ Pennoyer, Peter; Walker, Anne (2003). The Architecture of Delano & Aldrich. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 156. ISBN 9780393730876. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  29. ^ "Arts Magazine". Arts Magazine. 19. Art Digest Incorporated: 13. 1944. Retrieved 10 April 2019.

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