Stuyvesant Fish (June 24, 1851 – April 10, 1923) was a noteworthy grandee of the United States' Gilded Age, having made his money as president of the Illinois Central Railroad. He kept grand residences in New York City and Newport, Rhode Island, entertained lavishly, and, along with his wife "Mamie", served as leaders of society.
Life and career
Fish was born in New York City, the son of Hamilton Fish and his wife Julia Ursin Niemcewicz, née Kean. A graduate of Columbia College, he was later an executive of the Illinois Central Railroad, and as its president from 1887 to 1906 oversaw its period of greatest expansion. In 1906, he was removed from his position by E. H. Harriman, possibly because of Fish's cooperation and participation with the state government in investigating the Mutual Life Insurance Company. Stuyvesant Fish also served on the board of directors of the National Park Bank. However, it is also possible that the reason was that his wife, Mamie, had snubbed Harriman's wife, Mary, from a society tea party. Mamie found Mary too "dull" and so snubbed her from a tea party at the Crossways in Newport, Rhode Island, where they spent the summer season.
He married Marion Graves Anthon on June 1, 1876. Marion, known as "Mamie", was a leader in New York and Newport society. When in Newport she lived in a grand Colonial Revival house named "Crossways", where her Harvest Festival Ball in August signaled the end of the Newport social season.
When Grand Duke Boris of Russia visited Newport, Mrs. Fish issued invitations for a dinner and ball in his honor; the night of the ball the Duke was detained by Mrs. Ogden Goelet, Mrs. Fish's rival as social leader, at whose home he was staying. About 200 guests had assembled in the hall at Crossways, and when the hour for dinner approached and there was no sign of the Duke, Mrs. Fish announced that the Duke was unable to come, but the Czar of Russia had agreed to be her guest. Suddenly the doors of the room were flung open and in walked His Imperial Majesty, dressed in his royal robes, wearing the Imperial Crown and carrying a scepter. The guests, including Senator Chauncey Depew, Pierpont Morgan, and Lord Charles Beresford, sank in a court curtsy, only to recover themselves with shrieks of laughter when they realized they were paying homage to Harry Lehr.
Stuyvesant Fish was a vestryman at Trinity Church, New York and a member of the Republican Party. He held no great interest in the doings of high society, and bore great patience with his wife's peculiar parties. He and his wife maintained his grandmother's Federal-style house at 21 Stuyvesant Street, but after 1898 their New York house was a brick and limestone Italianate structure at 25 East 78th Street at Madison Avenue. The house, which was designed by Stanford White, is still standing.
19 Gramercy Park
For a time, Fish lived in 19 Gramercy Park South, a small four-story row house located at the corner of Gramercy Park South (East 20th Street) and Irving Place in the Gramercy neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City.