19. William C. Whitney House, 871 Fifth Avenue

William C. Whitney House
Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

The William C. Whitney House was a townhouse at 871 Fifth Avenue occupied by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, the namesake founder of the Whitney Museum. She was the second daughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt II, and she grew up at the Cornelius Vanderbilt II Mansion just a short walk from her future home. Gertrude was a sculptor herself, whose famous works included The Founders of the Daughters of the American Revolution beside Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. Her Greenwich Village studio still remains.

The home was originally constructed for Robert L. Stuart, who owned a New York sugar refining business, but he passed away before its completion. In about 1897, the home came into ownership of William C. Whitney, who served as Secretary of the Navy under Grover Cleveland. The home was originally designed by William Schickel, but Whitney called in Stanford White to perform renovations to the property. After his wife Edith died, Whitney became fully immersed in renovations, which allowed for magnificent balls and elegant rooms.