Class and Leisureat America's First ResortNewport, Rhode Island1870-1914

Alexander Agassiz

Alexander AgassizAlexander Agassiz (1835-1910) was a marine biologist, oceanographer, and mining engineer, and a member of Newport's intellectual class.

Agassiz was born in Neuchatel, Switzerland, in 1835. He emigrated to the United States in 1849 and studied engineering and natural history at Harvard University.

In 1877, he began oceanographic explorations, including detailed observations of the Pacific and the Caribbean. Agassiz became an authority on jellyfish, echinoderms, and corals.

Agassiz also made a fortune in the copper industry. He served as president of the Calumet and Hecla Mining Company on Lake Superior.

Agassiz donated funds to Harvard and directed the Harvard University Museum of Comparative Zoology, founded by his father, Louis Agassiz.

Like many industrialists, Agassiz summered in Newport, Rhode Island. His home, Castle Hill, overlooks Naragansett Bay. Today, it is a resort hotel.

Kay Davis, University of Virginia, © 2001