Robert Thurlow Vanderbilt

R.T. Vanderbilt married Milfred Bedford, sister in law of Helen Gaynor who married E.T. Bedford, and became neighbors of Bedford on the prestigious Beachside Avenue. Greens Farms Academy, founded in 1925, is a K-12 independent school in Westport, CT. Its main building is a private home that was adaptively reused as a school. The house was designed for Vanderbilt, founder of the Vanderbilt Chemical Company.

The architect was Harrie T. Lindberg, the Stamford White protegé who was called “the American Lutyens”. Lindberg was versatile and designed in Colonial Revival as well as Elizabethan/Jacobean styles. While he was known for his large carefully proportioned residential commissions all over the country, he also designed the Vanderbilt Chemical Company headquarters in Norwalk, CT. and the US embassy in Helsinki, Finland.

R. T. Vanderbilt Company opened its doors for business on 42nd Street in New York City in 1916. It was started by a 31-year-old named Robert Thurlow Vanderbilt who had $1,000 of his own, a $24,000 family loan, and a contract to sell clay for a company in the South. Since the paper industry was a prime market for clay, it was here that Robert Vanderbilt saw his Company begin to grow. His success led him to form R. T. Vanderbilt Company’s first subsidiary, Continental Clay Company (now Dixie Clay Company) in South Carolina. However, while soft clay was geared to the needs of the paper industry, Continental Clay and North American Clay Company (of which Robert was a director) were also mining hard clays more suitable to the rubber industry. This introduced Vanderbilt to the rubber industry. Today the Company employs 420 men and women, selling throughout the United States and in some 80 countries around the world. 

The stone house overlooks a great lawn oriented towards Long Island Sound. Its entry from the opposite side is formed by an oval edged with mature apple trees followed by a stone and brick paved court. The simple geometry of the slate gabled roofline is punctuated by numerous chimneys.The elegant house and approach axis are sufficiently strong to organize additions and detached buildings that comprise the growing campus.


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