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Guide to the Papers of William Halsey Wood
circa 1865-1982
  MS 141

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

© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Luis Rodriguez

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on March 11, 2014
Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Wood, William Halsey, 1855-1897
Title: William Halsey Wood Papers
Dates: circa 1865-1982, bulk 1888-1897
Abstract: The William Halsey Wood Papers consist of architectural drawings, photographs, personal correspondence, clippings, and other material related to the life of the architect William Halsey Wood (1855-1897).
Quantity: 4.0 Linear feet (3 archives boxes, 1 flat box)
Location note: Manuscript cage
Call Phrase: MS 141

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Biographical/Historical note

William Halsey Wood (1855-1897) was born on April 24, 1855 in Danville, NY to Daniel Halsey Wood and Hannah Bell Lippincott. The family moved to Newark, NJ, where Halsey Wood was educated at the Episcopal House of Prayer parish school. In 1870 he began an apprenticeship with the architect John F. Miller in Newark. After leaving the unsuccessful firm Taylor, Roberts and Wood, he opened his own office in 1879. The same year, he completed the William Clark House, which was followed by a number of other notable domestic projects, including his own home, “Winmarleigh”.

His ecclesiastical designs, meanwhile, reached a height in 1888, when he entered his drawings for “Jerusalem, the Golden” into the design competition for the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. While his design was not ultimately accepted, he continued to work on a number of other prominent religious buildings, primarily Episcopal churches in New Jersey and New York. Like other noteworthy architects of the period, he tended to embrace a version of eclecticism that combined historic European styles with modern American sensibilities.

In 1889 he married Florence Hemsley in Tannersville, NY. They had three children. Halsey Wood died in 1897 in Philadelphia, PA at age 41.

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Scope and Contents

The collection contains correspondence, architectural drawings, photographs, clippings, and other material related to the personal and professional life of William Halsey Wood. A primary focus is his design for the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Additionally, there are drawings and clippings related to approximately two dozen additional projects, the majority of which are churches. The design for his home "Winmarleigh" in Newark, NJ is also prominent. Correspondence and other personal materials describe the architect's youth and wedding, followed later by his illness and death.


The collection is arranged into two primary series: Personal Papers and Project Records. The former contains personal and biographical material and the latter documents the architectural output of William Halsey Wood. A third series contains mainly secondary source material sent to the repository decades after the initial donation.

  1. Series I: Personal Papers
  2. Series II: Project Documents
  3. Series III: Additional Donation

Material is arranged chronologically and by subject or format where appropriate. See series descriptions for more detail.

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Carnegie, Andrew, 1835-1919

Document Type

  • Architectural drawings (visual works)
  • Clippings
  • Correspondence
  • Photographic prints
  • Sketchbooks

Subject Topics

  • Architecture -- Competitions -- United States
  • Church buildings–New York (State)--New York--Design and construction
  • Weddings--United States

Subject Places

  • Architecture - United States
  • Manhattan (N.Y.)
  • Newark, N.J.

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Administrative Information


A gift of William Halsey Wood Jr. and Emily Hemsley Burrows (children), 1955.

Access Restrictions

Open to qualified researchers.

Photocopying undertaken by staff only. Limited to twenty exposures of stable, unbound material per day. (Researchers may not accrue unused copy amounts from previous days.)

Use restrictions

This collection is owned by the New-York Historical Society. Permission to publish materials must be obtained in writing from: Manuscripts Department, New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024; or via email at mssdept@nyhistory.org.

The copyright law of the United States governs the making of photocopies and protects unpublished materials as well as published materials. Unpublished materials created before January 1, 1978 cannot be quoted in publication without permission of the copyright holder.

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as The William Halsey Wood Papers, MS 141, The New-York Historical Society.

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Container List

Series I: Personal Papers (circa 1865-1938)

Scope and Contents

The personal papers consist of correspondence, travel sketches, and biographical material related to the life and death of William Halsey Wood.

Subseries A: Correspondence (1889-1897)

Scope and Contents

The correspondence consists primarily of letters written by William Halsey Wood to his fiancé Florence Hemsley in the months leading up their marriage in 1889. Wedding preparations are the focus of this correspondence, but there is also mention of the work being done on Peddie Memorial Church, the plans for the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, and a meeting with Andrew Carnegie. There are also letters to WHW from Florence Hemsley (Florence H. Wood) and her mother, Emily Hemsley, as well as correspondence regarding the illness and death of WHW. The correspondence is partially catalogued at item level in the onsite manuscript card catalog.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 William Halsey Wood to Florence Hemsley
1889 September 8-15
Box: 1 Folder : 2 William Halsey Wood to Florence Hemsley
1889 September 16 - 1889 October 4
Box: 1 Folder : 3 William Halsey Wood to Florence Hemsley
1889 October 7-15
Box: 1 Folder : 4 William Halsey Wood to Florence Hemsley
1889 October 16-25
Box: 1 Folder : 5 William Halsey Wood to Florence Hemsley
1889 November 3-13
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Outgoing from William Halsey Wood, additional recipients
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Florence Hemsley to William Halsey Wood
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Emily Hemsley to William Halsey Wood
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Various senders re: wedding, illness and death
1889, 1897

Subseries B: Sketchbooks (1875-1881)

Scope and Contents

There are two sketchbooks. The first (1875-1876) contains rough drawings of existing buildings and hypothetical designs. The latter contains drawings from a European trip in July and August 1881. Both are reflective of Halsey Wood’s design education.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 2 Folder : 1 Early sketchbook
Box: 2 Folder : 1 Travel sketchbook

Subseries C: Biographical Records (circa 1865-1938)

Scope and Contents

The subseries contains a copy of "Memories of William Halsey Wood by his wife" (Florence Hemsley Wood), accompanied by additional copies of plates and illustrations. There are also memorial and obituary clippings, a will, and related ephemera.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 2 Folder : 2 Personal ephemera
Box: 2 Folder : 3 Portraits
circa 1865-1890
Box: 2 Folder : 4 "Memories of William Halsey Wood" by his wife [Florence H. Wood]
Box: 2 Folder : 4 Illustrations from "Memories of William Halsey Wood"
Box: 4 Folder : 1 St. Hilda's Guild photographs
circa 1918-1919

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Series II: Project Documents (1885-1982)

Scope and Contents

Project documents consist of original drawings and secondary material documenting the architectural work of William Halsey Wood.

Subseries A: Drawings (circa 1888-1895)

Scope and Contents

Files contain original drawings reflecting William Halsey Wood's professional practice in various design phases. Included are sketches, details and perspectives on paper.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 3 Folder : 1 Cathedral of St. John the Divine - New York, NY
circa 1888
Box: 4 Folder : 3 "Winmarleigh" residence - Newark, NJ
Box: 4 Folder : 4 St. John’s Episcopal Church - Cohoes, NY
Box: 4 Folder : 4 St. Paul’s Episcopal Church - East Orange, NJ
Box: 4 Folder : 4 St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church - Tannersville, NY
Box: 4 Folder : 4 St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church - New York, NY
Box: 4 Folder : 4 Newton Parish House - Newton, NJ
Box: 4 Folder : 5 Trask residence, unidentified
Box: 4 Folder : 6-7 Unidentified residential and religious buildings

Subseries B: Reference Files (1889-1982)

Scope and Contents

The subseries contains pamphlets, clippings, prints, and other secondary material related to the architectural work of William Halsey Wood.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 3 Folder : 2 Scrapbook (primarily St. John the Divine)
Box: 3 Folder : 3-4 Cathedral of St. John the Divine: printed material
Box: 3 Folder : 5 Churches: printed material
Box: 3 Folder : 6-7 Winmarleigh: photographs and printed material
Box: 4 Folder : 2 Oversize project images (primarily Winmarleigh)

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Series III: Additional Donation (1968-1976)

Scope and Contents

This series consists of a group of later donations made by William Halsey Wood Jr., the son of the late architect. It contains correspondence, academic work, and other supplementary material.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 3 Folder : 8 William Halsey Wood Jr. correspondence and supplementary material
Box: 3 Folder : 9 R. Craig Miller correspondence and academic work

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