Anne Harriman Sands Rutherfurd Vanderbilt


Her Harriman ancestors

Her son, George Winthrop Sands (1885-1908)

Her death

Her experiences in World War I

Her marriage to William Kissam Vanderbilt

Chateau St. Louis de Poissy

Her step-daughter, Consuelo, Duchess of Marlborough, Godmother to GWS (1908-1986)

660 Fifth Avenue: Granny's New York home

WK's Jamesian divorce from 1st wife

(portrait by François Flameng Paris 1856 - 1923, signed & dated 1909; Oil on canvas, 161,5 x 99 cm)

Anne, or Granny Vanderbilt, was with her husband William K., a notable host in New York City and Paris and at their chateau and racing stable in Poissy, some 20 miles from Paris, (where great-grandfather Sands was killed) and on their yacht, Valiant.
Granny particularly enjoyed entertaining musical notables. Her friend, Eleanor Robson Belmont, recalled an evening early in 1911 when Engelbert Humperdinck, in New York for the premiere of his opera Die Konigskinder at the Metropolitan, was at one of her parties with Giacomo Puccini, in New York for the premiere of his opera The Girl of the Golden West. After dinner Josef Hoffman played with Humperdinck and Puccini on either side of the piano. Imagine what an evening that was!
Of course, this makes Granny sound rather frivolous but that was not the case. Although she was certainly a participant in society, (she was one of the founders of the Colony Club in 1903) she was also a lifelong philanthropist. She was responsible for the building of the "open-stair" apartment houses, four large buildings with 384 apartments on Avenue A (now York Avenue) between 77th and 78th streets in New York. These revolutionary new buildings were intended to house patients suffering from tuberculosis, then the scourge of New York slums, and their families in airy, sanitary surroundings. She paid the $1 million cost of the partments, which were designed by Henry Atterbury Smith. Completed in 1910, the buildings still exist and are still occupied.
WK's divorce from his first wife, Alva Smith, was quite a story in its own right and the machinations undertaken so that he could marry Granny attracted the attention of the famous novelist Henry James.