|Whitelaw Reid Collection|
Title: Whitelaw Reid Collection
Whitelaw Reid (1837-1912) was a prominent journalist, politician, and diplomat of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He was born in Xenia, Ohio and excelled in local schools and at Miami University of Ohio. After purchasing and editing a local newspaper, he made a name for himself with his coverage of the Civil War, writing articles for papers in Cleveland and Cincinnati under the pseudonym Agate. Reid was a strong supporter of the new Republican Party and secured the post of librarian of the House of Representatives from 1863-1866. In the following years, Reid continued to build his reputation as a prominent Republican and writer on current events. He joined Horace Greeley's New York Tribune in 1868, assuming the editorship after only a few years, and became further involved with politics when Greeley ran for President in 1872. In the following years Reid served as minister to France (1889-1892), permanent representative at the Court of St. James (1905-1912), and was the Republican Party candidate for Vice President in 1892, Reid assumed financial control of the Tribune after Greeley's death; the Reid family retained control of the paper until the late 1950s.
Ophir Farm was created by Benjamin Holladay (1819-1887), who purchased the 700-acre tract of land in 1864. Holladay was a well-known 19th-century entrepreneur, originally born in Kentucky, whose wealth derived from various transportation and freight enterprises in the American West. In the 1860s he organized successful overland coach services west of the Mississippi River as well as the Pony Express, obtaining lucrative postal contracts with the U.S. government. He also had investments in the Ophir Mine, located in Virginia City, Nevada, after which he named his Westchester County estate. Holladay later sold his stagecoach business to become involved in the railroad boom of the later nineteenth century, purchasing a controlling interest in the Oregon Central Railroad and later expanding it into the Oregon & California Railroad. Holladay's successful career came to an abrupt end with the panic of 1873, after which he defaulted on his bonds. The shipbuilder John Roach owned the estate for a brief period, and it was then sold to Whitelaw Reid in 1887.
At the time Whitelaw Reid and his wife Elisabeth purchased Ophir Farm, it was in a state of near ruin after years of neglect. Holladay's huge square mansion, constructed of granite with a mansard roof, needed extensive repair and the surrounding roads, fields and gardens were completely overgrown. The Reids hired the well-known architectural firm of McKim, Mead, and White to supervise the reconstruction and Frederic Law Olmsted, the landscape architect who had helped create New York's Central Park, to plan and restore the grounds. Renovation of the house included installation of electricity and a telephone connection, probably the first in Westchester County. However, after six months of intensive work a fire demolished most of the structure in July 1888, only days after the Reids had moved into their as yet unfinished home.
Undaunted, the Reids rebuilt the house on the remaining stone foundations, adding a five story tower and crenellated roof line reminiscent of a medieval castle. Reid supervised most of the work by letter from Paris, as he was appointed minister to France in 1889. The building's lavish interior was filled with furniture, tapestries, carpets and paintings sent from Europe; an extensive portico, terraced gardens, and tennis court were built for outdoor entertaining. The surrounding acres were refashioned into a working farm complete with cows, poultry and sheep. Upon the Reids' return from France in 1892, the estate was rechristened Ophir Hall.
The next decade saw the Reids' most intensive use of the property as they entertained extensively and raised their two children, Ogden and Jean. Despite the time and expense they devoted to their country home, the Reid family was often abroad as Whitelaw served on several diplomatic missions in Europe during the 1890s. In 1905, he was named permanent representative to the Court of St. James, and lived in London until his death in 1912. In the following years, Elisabeth devoted herself to charitable work in New York and France. After her death in 1931, most of the Ophir Hall's furnishings were sold at auction. The estate remained unoccupied until its sale by the Reid estate to Manhattanville College in 1949. The Reids' home, now known as Reid Hall, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Booklets, research papers, photographs, correspondence, news clippings and audio tapes which document the history and architecture of Whitelaw Reid's former estate, known as Ophir Farm, on which the campus of Manhattanville College is now located. Most of the material concerns the ownership of the estate by the Reid family, from 1887 to 1949, in particular the elaborate, fortress-like main residence known as Reid Hall which serves as the college's administrative building. A smaller portion of the collection relates to Ben Holladay's ownership of the estate from 1864 into the 1870s.
The collection is arranged in two series:
Box 1. Whitelaw Reid
Subseries A: Historical accounts
Typescript: Excerpt from Bolton, Reverend Robert. The History of the County of Westchester, 1881, and copies of excerpt from J. Thomas Scharf's History of Westchester County.
Subseries B: Published accounts
Subseries C: Clippings
Subseries D: Photographs
Subseries E: Landscaping Plans
Storage Tube: Plans (reproductions)
Series 2: Ben Holladay
Folders 34 and 35:
Folders 36 and 37:
Oversize Box 1
Mounted photos of Ophir Farm roads and one view of pool
Academy Folders 1-6: original photographs which accompanied Purchase School project text (Folder 2)
Folders 39 - 41
Oversize Box 2:
Political posters, 1969 issue of Look magazine including article on Ogden Reid, Ophir Farm agricultural inventory; leather-bound welcome proclamation to Reid from the "Mayor, Alderman and Citizens of the City of Bath" on the occasion of his visit, October 22, 1908.
Oversize clippings and original manuscript of music and lyrics to "Driver's Song"
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