Henry T. Sloane House

9 East 72nd Street, New York City

Completed in 1896, for Henry T. Sloane (1845-1937) and his wife, Jessie Robbins (1858-1935). Designed by Carrère & Hastings, during the two years it took to build it emerged that Mrs Sloane's affections had been won by the infinitely more dashing Perry Belmont. For two unhappy years, its 20,000-square feet of living space allowed the Sloanes to avoid one another as much as possible until their divorce came through in 1899 and Sloane forbade his wife from seeing or talking to their children until adulthood. Neither of them stepped foot in the house again and in 1900 it was briefly leased to Joseph Pulitzer before he built his palazzo at 11 East 73rd Street. For such a stunning house, it then managed to attract yet another stunningly bitter man....  

This house is best associated with...

Henry Thompson Sloane

Henry T. Sloane, of W & J Sloane, Interior Decorators & Furnishers, New York


Jessie (Robbins) Belmont

Mrs Jessie Ann (Robbins) Sloane, Belmont


Joseph Pulitzer

Joseph Pulitzer, of New York; Newspaper Publisher & U.S. Congressman


Katherine (Davis) Pulitzer

Mrs "Kate" (Davis) Pulitzer


James Jewett Stillman

James Stillman, of New York; President of the National City Bank


John Sanford

John Sanford, Carpet Manufacturer & U.S. Congressman from New York


In 1901, the mansion was purchased by James Stillman, Chairman of the National City Bank, who enjoyed a personal fortune of $77 million - but that was about all he enjoyed. Despite owning three colossal properties (his New York townhouse, L'Hôtel du Parc Monceau in Paris, and his country estate at Cornwall-on-Hudson), he rattled around each in solitary, grim silence. In New York, he was tended to by nine live-in servants but there were few visitors and those who did meet him were left with, "a general impression of cold arrogance". Each night he rated the chef's food with a percentage score and when his family did come to visit, after inspecting them in military file, he made them sit through two-hour formal dinners in deathly silence! His wife found him so unbearable that she left in the 1890s, and just as Henry Sloane had forbidden his ex-wife from seeing their children, so Stillman forbade his wife from ever speaking to him or their children again.

Shaking out the Carpets

If life at the mansion had been repressive up until Stillman's death in 1918, things got decidedly cheerier with its new occupant, John Sanford. Like Sloane, Sanford's fortune was derived from manufacturing carpets, but unlike Sloane he was devoted to his wife. He inherited $40 million and the carpet business started by his grandfather at Amsterdam, New York, which he sold a whisker before the Wall Street Crash in 1929, for $20 million, when it became the Bigelow-Sanford Carpet Company. In the office, Sanford was a responsible businessman and was elected a U.S. Congressman from New York, but for over seventy years in his spare time he was found at the Saratoga Race Course, the quintessential bon viveur who with a handful of others brought prestige back to the track.

Sanford thought nothing of placing $40,000 on the outcome of one steeplechase. Not only did he bet big, but he was often successful and made a habit of sharing his winnings with his factory workers at Amsterdam. In 1923, one of his horses became the first American-owned horse to win the prestigious English Grand National and when another won the Kentucky Derby (1916), Sanford was described as, “the happiest man at the track” - although that happiness was most likely shared by several thousand factory workers!

From 'Holiday' to Prisoner of War

John and Ethel Sanford were the parents of three children who were the inspiration for the three Seton siblings in John Barry's Broadway hit Holiday that was later made into a film starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. In 2019, two books were published about their daughter, Gertrude Sanford Legendre, who aside from being one of the most popular socialites on Long Island, was also an OSS spy. Captured in Paris by the Germans in 1944 - “the first American woman to be made a prisoner of war on the Western Front” - she was held captive for six months before making a daring escape to Switzerland.

The Lycée Français & the Emir of Qatar

John Sanford died here in 1939 when it was sold to, "a religious organization" who fortunately made few changes to the principal rooms. In 1964, it and its similarly French neighbor became home to the Lycée Français de New York. They started building the present Lycée in 2000 and the following year it (together with its neighbor) was placed on market before being sold in 2010 for $26 million to Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar. The Emir has since employed Thornton Tomasetti to excavate an indoor swimming pool and add reinforced windows, all perfectly matched to the originals. 

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Contributed by Mark Meredith on 04/06/2021 and last updated on 03/07/2021.
Main Image Courtesy of Courtesy of acronson, wikimapia.


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