Richard Morris Hunt (1827-1895)

Richard M. Hunt, of New York City; Architect to the Vanderbilt family etc.

Associated Houses



Marble House


Ochre Court


Elbridge T. Gerry Mansion


The Breakers




Crumwold Hall

Hyde Park

E.L. Winthrop House


He was born at Battleboro, Vermont, and was named for his uncle, Lewis Richard Morris, the New York-born U.S. Congressman from Vermont. His father was also a U.S. Congressman from Vermont and his grandfather was the 2nd Lieutenant-Governor of Vermont. Although politically important, the family were also notably artistic. He was educated at the Boston Latin School until 1843 when his widowed mother moved the family to Rome in Italy out of concern for Richard's brother's health. At Rome, Richard studied art then architecture before continuing his education in the latter at Geneva in Switzerland and finally at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris - the first American to be admitted to what was the finest school of architecture in the world.

He returned to the States in early 1856 and established himself at New York City where he quickly became one of the most prominent architects of the Gilded Age and found himself particularly favored by the Vanderbilt family. Aside from private commissions such as Biltmore, The Breakers and Marble House, in New York City he is best remembered for the façade and Great Hall of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. He was also a co-founder of both the American Institute of Architects and the Municipal Art Society. In 1861, he married Catherine Howland, a wealthy shipping heiress and a first cousin of FDR's father, James Roosevelt (1828-1900). They were the parents of five children.
Contributed by Mark Meredith on 11/10/2018 and last updated on 02/12/2023.