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Born (1844-02-29)February 29, 1844
New York City, New York, U.S.
Died March 19, 1915(1915-03-19) (aged 71)
Aiken, South Carolina, U.S.
Employer W. & J. Sloane
Spouse(s) Emily Thorn Vanderbilt (m. 1872)
Children 5, including Emily
Parents William Sloane
Euphemia Douglas
Relatives Henry T. Sloane (brother)
Henry Sloane Coffin (nephew)
William Sloane Coffin (nephew)

William Douglas Sloane (February 29, 1844 – March 19, 1915)[1] was an American businessman, sportsman, philanthropist, and member of New York society during the Gilded Age.[2]

Early life

Sloane was born in New York City on February 29, 1844. He was the third son of William Sloane (1810–1879) and Euphemia (née Douglas) Sloane (1810–1886). Among his siblings was John Sloane, who married Adela Berry;[3] Douglas Sloane; Mary Elizabeth Sloane; Henry Thompson Sloane, who married Jessie Ann Robbins (who later divorced him so she could marry Perry Belmont);[4] and Euphemia (née Sloane) Coffin, who married Edmund Coffin and was the mother of Rev. Henry Sloane Coffin and William Sloane Coffin Sr.[5]

His parents were emigrants from Kilmarnock, Scotland. His paternal grandparents were John Sloane and Jane Mary (née Lammie) Sloane,[6] and his maternal grandparents were David and Margaret Douglas.[7]


Advertisement for W. & J. Sloane Furniture from Sept. 1902 editions of Scribner's Magazine.

Beginning at the age of fifteen, Sloane started working for the family carpet and furniture firm which was started by his father in 1843. In 1852, his uncle John W. Sloane joined the firm and it was renamed W. & J. Sloane.[8]

In 1866, he became a member of the firm,[9] and when the company was incorporated in 1891, Sloane became a director and remained on the board until his death.[1] He served as treasurer of the company.[10]

During the U.S. Civil War, Sloane enlisted as a private in Company H of the Seventh Regiment on October 31, 1862. The Regiment was ordered to Washington in 1863. He was made corporal in 1866, sergeant in 1868 and was honorably discharged on May 19, 1871.


Sloane Physics Laboratory, the science building funded by Sloane at Yale University.

In 1888, Sloane and his wife financed the creation of New York's Sloane Hospital for Women in 1888 with an endowment of more than $1,000,000.[11] The Sloane Hospital is currently an obstetrics and gynecology service within New York-Presbyterian Hospital and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology of the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City. He also donated heavily to the Children's Aid Society.[12]

In 1889, Yale honored Sloane with the honorary degree of M.A.[13] In 1912, Sloane and his brother Henry jointly donated in excess of $500,000 to create the Yale Physics Laboratory at Yale University,[1] as a memorial to their father.[7]

Sloane was a member of the board of trustees of Columbia University, a fellow of the New-York Historical Society, and a director of almost twelve companies, including the Suburban Homes Company, the United States Trust Company, the Central and South American Telegraph Company, the Eastern Steel Company, the Guaranty Safe Deposit Company, the Guaranty Trust Company, the Mahoning Railroad Company, and the National City Bank of New York.[1]

Society life

In 1892, Sloane along with his wife and several members of their extended families, were included in Ward McAllister's "Four Hundred", purported to be an index of New York's best families, published in The New York Times.[14][15] Conveniently, 400 was the number of people that could fit into Mrs. Astor's ballroom.[16]

He was a member of the Union Club of the City of New York, the Metropolitan Club, the Ardsley Club, the Union League Club, the Racquet and Tennis Club, the Automobile of America Club, the Riding Club, the New York Yacht Club, the Sleepy Hollow Club, the Country Club and the Aero Club.[1]

Personal life

Portrait of Sloane's wife, Emily Thorn Vanderbilt, by Benjamin Curtis Porter.

In 1872, Sloane was married to Emily Thorn Vanderbilt (1852–1946), the fifth child, and second daughter, of William Henry Vanderbilt.[17] Her siblings included William, Cornelius, Margaret, Florence, Frederick, Eliza, and George Washington Vanderbilt II, all grandchildren of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt. Together, they were the parents of three daughters and two sons:[18] He also had a country estate in Mount Kisco, New York which is now called Merestead Park.

  • Florence Adele Sloane (1873–1960), wife of James Abercrombie Burden Jr. and of Richard Montgomery Tobin.[19]
  • Emily Vanderbilt Sloane (1874–1970), who married lawyer John Henry Hammond III.[20]
  • Lila Vanderbilt Sloane (1878–1934),[21] wife of William Bradhurst Osgood Field.[22]
  • William Douglas Sloane (1883–1884), who died young.[1]
  • Malcolm Douglas Vanderbilt Sloane (1885–1924),[23] who married Elinor Lee in 1915.[24]

In New York, the Sloane's lived at 2 West 52nd Street in Manhattan.[10][25] In 1885, William and Emily commissioned Peabody and Stearns to build Elm Court, the enormous shingle-style "cottage" in Lenox, Massachusetts.[26][27]

Sloane died of a kidney ailment on March 19, 1915 in Aiken, South Carolina,[1] of which he had been suffering from for a while.[28] Following a funeral at St. Bartholomew's Church, he was buried in the Sloane Mausoleum in Moravian Cemetery at New Dorp, Staten Island.[12] After his death, his widow remarried in 1920 to Henry White, the former U.S. Ambassador to France and Italy, and a signatory of the Treaty of Versailles.[29][30] Emily died, aged 94, in Lenox, Massachusetts on July 29, 1946.[31]


His grandchildren include Adele Hammond,[32] paternal grandmother of actor Timothy Olyphant; Alice Frances Hammond, wife of jazz musician Benny Goodman;[33] Rachel Hammond, cattle breeder and wife of Manley D. Breck; and John Henry Hammond, talent scout.[20]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 "WILLIAM D. SLOANE DIES IN AIKEN, S. C. New York Merchant and Financier Expires After a Short Illness, at 71. A TRUSTEE OF COLUMBIA Endowed with His Wife the Sloane Hospital for Women—A Benefactor of Yale.". The New York Times. March 20, 1915. Retrieved 17 July 2018. 
  2. (in en) Monthly Bulletin. New York Chamber of Commerce. 1915. pp. 10–11. Retrieved 17 July 2018. 
  3. "JOHN SLOANE DEAD. The Well-Known Merchant Had Been in Business in New York Fifty Years.". The New York Times. December 10, 1905. Retrieved 17 July 2018. 
  4. "Perry Belmont, 96, Ex-diplomat, Dead. Envoy To Spain In 1888-9 Was In Congress 8 Years. Decried Isolationism In 1925 Perry Might, 96, Ex-diplomat, Dead". May 26, 1947. Retrieved 2015-04-30. 
  5. Staff (December 17, 1933). "Wm. S. Coffin Dies, Art Museum Head. Stricken in Street, He Succumbs to Heart Disease at His Home. 54 Years Old. Interested in Housing. Urged Razing of East Side Slums. Honored by France for Y.M.C.A. War Work". Retrieved 2015-11-08. 
  6. Downs, Winfield Scott; Company, American Historical (1960) (in en). Encyclopedia of American biography: New series. American Historical Society. p. 70. Retrieved 17 July 2018. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Obituary Record of Graduates of Yale University Deceased during the Year 1937-1938 | Series 35". 1 March 1939. Retrieved 17 July 2018. 
  8. (in en) The Story of Sloane's. W. and J. Sloane. 1950. Retrieved 17 July 2018. 
  9. (in en) History of American Textiles: With Kindred and Auxiliary Industries (illustrated). Frank P. Bennett. 1922. p. 285. Retrieved 17 July 2018. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 Lewis, A. (2013) (in en). American Country Houses of the Gilded Age: (Sheldon's "Artistic Country-Seats"). Courier Corporation. p. 94. ISBN 9780486141213. Retrieved 17 July 2018. 
  11. "Open Surgical Ward in Sloane Hospital". The New York Times. 1911-03-02. Retrieved 2007-10-30. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 "William Douglas Sloane" (in en). Black Publishing Company. April 1915. p. 69. Retrieved 17 July 2018. 
  13. Treasurer, Yale University (1920) (in en). Report of the Treasurer and Associate Treasurer and Comptroller of Yale University. Yale University. p. 238. Retrieved 17 July 2018. 
  15. Patterson, Jerry E. (2000) (in en). The First Four Hundred: Mrs. Astor's New York in the Gilded Age. Random House Incorporated. p. 234. ISBN 9780847822089. Retrieved 13 June 2018. 
  16. Keister, Lisa A. (2005) (in en). Getting Rich: America's New Rich and How They Got That Way. Cambridge University Press. p. 36. ISBN 9780521536677. Retrieved 20 October 2017. 
  17. Olmsted, Frederick Law; Beveridge, Charles E. (2013) (in en). The Papers of Frederick Law Olmsted: The Early Boston Years, 1882–1890. JHU Press. p. 546. ISBN 9781421409269. Retrieved 17 July 2018. 
  18. MacDowell, Dorothy Kelly (1989) (in en). Commodore Vanderbilt and his family: a biographical account of the Descendants of Cornelius and Sophia Johnson Vanderbilt. D.K. MacDowell. pp. 35, 111, 116. Retrieved 17 July 2018. 
  19. Homberger, Eric (2004) (in en). Mrs. Astor's New York: Money and Social Power in a Gilded Age. Yale University Press. p. 152. ISBN 0300105150. Retrieved 17 July 2018. 
  20. 20.0 20.1 "Emily Vanderbilt Hammond, 95, Dies" (in en). The New York Times. February 23, 1970. Retrieved 17 July 2018. 
  21. "LILA V. SLOANE HONORED; Mr. and Mrs. W.D. Sloane Give a Cotillion at Their Home. G. CREIGHTON WEBB LEADS The First Time Mrs. Sloane Has Bidden Guests to an Important Function Since the Death of Her Mother, Mrs. William H. Vanderbilt.". The New York Times. 15 February 1898. Retrieved 25 July 2017. 
  22. "Field, William B. Osgood" (in en). Archives Directory for the History of Collecting. Retrieved 27 July 2018. 
  23. "Malcolm Douglas Sloane" (in en). The New York Times. September 7, 1924. Retrieved 27 July 2018. 
  24. "MALCOLM SLOANE TO WED ELINOR LEE Son of Late Wm. Douglas Sloane Betrothed to Daughter of Mr. and Mrs. C. H. Lee. QUIET WEDDING IN JUNE Breavement Prevented Engagement Announcement Mr. Sloane a Nephew of W. K. Vanderbilt.". The New York Times. April 24, 1915. Retrieved 27 July 2018. 
  25. Foreman, John (5 September 2011). "Mrs. White's Houses". BIG OLD HOUSES. Retrieved 17 July 2018. 
  26. "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13. 
  27. Gilder, Cornelia Brooke (2017) (in en). Edith Wharton's Lenox. Arcadia Publishing. p. 54. ISBN 9781625857880. Retrieved 17 July 2018. 
  28. "William Douglas Sloane Ill.". The New York Times. September 15, 1914. Retrieved 17 July 2018. 
  29. "HENRY WHITE WEDS MRS. WM.D. SLOANE; Ex-Ambassador to France Is 70 and Daughter of Late Wm. H. Vanderbilt Is 68. RELATIVES ONLY AT NUPTIAL Ceremony in St. Bartholomew's Chapel Follows Issuing of License --Couple at Bride's City Home.". The New York Times. 4 November 1920. Retrieved 21 July 2017. 
  30. "VANDERBILTS GIVE UP ANOTHER 5TH AV. SITE; Mrs. White's $3,500,000 Sale Leaves Family Only Two of Original Seven Homes. BENJAMIN WINTER BUYER Latest of Series of Big Deals by Him -- Only $700,000 Cash in One for $9,200,000. VANDERBILTS GIVE UP ANOTHER 5TH AV. SITE". The New York Times. 9 January 1926. Retrieved 21 July 2017. 
  31. Times, Special To The New York (29 July 1946). "MRS. HENRY WHITE DIES IN LENOX AT 94; Daughter of W.H. Vanderbilt, Widow of Envoy to Paris, Gave Sloane Hospital". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 July 2017. 
  32. "The Week in Society" (in en). Hearst Corporation. 1919. p. 36. Retrieved 17 July 2018. 
  33. (in en) Blatchford Memorial II: A Genealogical Record of the Family of Rev. Samuel Blatchford, D.D., with Some Mention of Allied Families, Also Autobiographical Sketch of Rev. Dr. Blatchford from "The Blatchford Memorial".. Privately printed. 1912. p. 106. Retrieved 17 July 2018. 

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