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Guide to the Records of the Washington Arch
1872-1925 (Bulk 1889-1895)
  MS 443.30

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400


@ 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Liz Arena

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on November 04, 2011
Description is in English.

Historical Note

Jan.- March 1889 William Rhinelander Stewart conceived the idea to build a temporary Triumphal Arch in Washington Square Park to celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of the inauguration of George Washington as the first President of the United States. Stewart becomes treasurer of the Washington Arch Fund, architect Stanford White designs the Arch free of charge, and Joseph Cabus builds the Arch.
April 1889 Funded on donations from local residents, a temporary wooden Arch is erected in time for the celebratory parade for the centennial of Washington's inauguration.
May 1889 The Committee for the Erection of the Washington Memorial Arch was organized to create a permanent replacement arch. It appoints Henry G. Marquand as Chairman, Louis Fitzgerald as Vice-Chairman, Richard Watson Gilder as Secretary, and William R. Stewart as Treasurer and selects Stanford White as the designer of the new arch.
Sept. 1889 Donations to the Washington Arch Fund reach $50,000 of the $100,000 estimated to complete the Arch's construction.
April 1890 David H. King, Jr., the builder of the Pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, is awarded the contract to build the Arch. He agrees to build the Arch for cost and waive his usual ten percent commission.
May 1890 Work upon the foundation is completed, and the laying of the corner-stone ceremony takes place.
Dec. 1890 The first block of marble is laid and construction continues throughout the winter.
Feb. 1891 Although the Arch Fund reaches $90,000, it is decided that more money is needed due to the change in plans to build a larger Arch with more complex ornamentation.
April 1892 The construction of the Arch comes to a close and donations to the Washington Arch Fund reach $121,907.50.
May 1895 The Washington Arch is formally dedicated and placed under the jurisdiction of city authorities.
1916 With money raised from the Washington Arch Statuary Fund, Hermon A. MacNeil completes his sculpture portraying Washington in his military uniform on the East Pedestal of the Arch.
1918 A. Stirling Calder's sculpture on the West Pedestal featuring Washington in his civilian clothing, also financed by the Statuary Fund, is completed.

Biographical Note

1852 William Rhinelander Stewart born on December 3rd to Lispenard and Mary Rogers (Rhinelander) Stewart.
1873 Stewart graduates from Columbia University Law School. He later gives up practicing law and devotes his professional career to philanthropy and the management of estates.
1880 He is chosen as Superintendent of the Mission Sunday School of Grace Chapel.
1882 Stewart appointed as commissioner for the first judicial district on the state board of charities. He continues to serve on this organization for forty-seven years.
1889 Stewart develops the idea of constructing the Washington Arch in Washington Square and serves as treasurer of the committee.
1895 Stewart formally presents Mayor William Strong with the key to the Arch, signifying the formal transfer of the Arch to city authorities.
1898 He is elected president of the National Conference of Charities and Corrections.
1900 Stewart organizes the New York State Conference of Charities and Corrections
1908-1929 He is president of the Rhinelander Real Estate Company.
1910 Stewart founds the New York City Conference of Charities and Corrections.
1911 He publishes his book The Philanthropic Work of Josephine Shaw Lowell, New York: Grace House, 1906.
1924 He publishes Grace Church and Old New York, New York: E. P. Dutton & company, 1924.
1929 Stewart dies on September 4th in New York City.