Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
William Kissam Vanderbilt
The second son of William Henry Vanderbilt, from whom he inherited $60 million, he was for a time active in the management of the family railroads, though not much after 1903. His sons William Kissam Vanderbilt II (1878-1944) and Harold Stirling Vanderbilt (1884-1970) were the last to be active in the railroads, the latter losing a proxy battle for the New York Central Railroad in the 1950s.
William K. Vanderbilt's first wife was Alva Erskine Smith (1853-1933), who he married in 1875. Born in 1853 to a slave-owning Alabama family, she was the mother of his children and was instrumental in forcing their daughter Consuelo (1877-1964) to marry the 9th Duke of Marlborough in 1895. Not long after this the Vanderbilts divorced, William K. later marrying Anne Harriman Rutherford Sands and Alva marrying Oliver Hazzard Perry Belmont.
Like other members of his wealthy family, he built magnificent Vanderbilt houses. His homes included Idle Hour (1900) on Long Island, New York and Marble House (1892), designed by Richard Morris Hunt who also designed his 660 Fifth Avenue mansion (1883), in Newport.
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