Frederick W. Vanderbilt

Frederick W. Vanderbilt (1856-1938) was the third son of William Henry Vanderbilt and the grandson of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, patriarch of the Vanderbilt dynasty. Frederick Vanderbilt joined his older brothers, Cornelius Vanderbilt II and William K. Vanderbilt, in managing the family's vast shipping and railroad empire.

Frederick Vanderbilt served on the board of directors of the New York Central Railroad for much of his career. He operated many railroads and invested in Western Union. Vanderbilt married Louise Anthony Torrance in 1878.

Vanderbilt hired the architectural firm of Peabody & Stearns to design and build a Tudor-style mansion of red sandstone in Newport, Rhode Island. Known as Rough Point (1887-1891), the mansion was situated on a 10-acre waterfront site at the end of Bellevue Avenue near Ochre Point. Frederick Law Olmsted was the landscape architect for the grounds.

Vanderbilt was a reserved man who preferred the company of family and friends to Newport society. His wife, Louise, while not a society matron like her sister-in-law, Alva Vanderbilt, enjoyed hosting parties during their brief summer residence at Rough Point.

In 1894, the Vanderbilts began renting Rough Point to summer guests. William B. Leeds, one of the tenants, purchased the estate in 1905. In 1922, the Leeds family sold Rough Point to entrepreneur James B. Duke. His daughter, Doris Duke, bequeathed Rough Point to the Newport Restoration Foundation. Today, it is open to the public as a museum.


Kay Davis, University of Virginia, ©2001-2003