We almost missed this one! We were on our way out of the cemetery when, almost simultaneously, George and myself caught sight of what looked like a very strange monument tucked away to our left. We decided to check it out, and I’m glad we did.

It turned out to be the final resting place of Samuel Untermeyr (March 6, 1858 – March 16, 1940).

According to the Untermyer Conservancy Website:

Samuel Untermyer was born in Virginia in 1858, and moved to New York City after the Civil War. He was a partner in the law firm of Guggenheimer, Untermyer & Marshall, and was the first lawyer in America to earn a one million dollar fee on a single case. He was also an astute investor, and became extremely wealthy.

Initially he was a corporate lawyer, but later in his career he became a trust-buster. The lead counsel for the Pujo Investigation, he was instrumental in the establishment of the Federal Reserve System, and advocated for the regulation of stock exchanges and other legal reforms. He was an influential Democrat and a close ally of Woodrow Wilson.
Samuel Untermyer was one of the most prominent Jews of his day in America. He was a prominent Zionist, and was President of the Keren Hayesod. In addition, he was the national leader of an unsuccessful movement in the early 1930s for a worldwide economic boycott of Germany, and called for the destruction of Hitler’s regime.

His wife, Minnie Untermyer, was at the center of cultural circles in New York City. She was one of a small group of women that transformed the New York Philharmonic in 1909, and brought Gustav Mahler to conduct the orchestra. She was also President of the American Poetry Society, and a patroness of artists and dancers in New York. She supported women’s suffrage and was able to offer her husband’s legal skills and significant financial support to groups supporting women’s right to vote.

Samuel Untermyer was also passionately interested in horticulture. He famously said that if he could do it over again, he would want to be the Parks Commissioner in New York City! Unlike most wealthy garden-owners, Untermyer was expertly knowledegable about gardening. The level of connoisseurship at the Untermyer Gardens was nationally famous, and many great gardeners got their training there.

The National Register of Historic Places Registration Form for Woodlawn provided the following information:

The Samuel Untermyer monument … is sited on a 22,000 square foot private lot. The monument was designed by architect Paul Chaflin (1925) and fabricated by Maine & New Hampshire Granite Company in crystal blue German granite. The monument features a bronze fountain and sculpture by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (1925). The monument is U-shaped in plan, with one side of the U occupied by a set of stepped grass terraces edged in stone, ascending to a circular courtyard. The courtyard is bordered by a low granite wall and paved with stones set in a Star of David pattern with a planting of boxwood. At the center of the courtyard is the bronze fountain, sculpted as an urn with three lion busts as feet. The U continues to the area of interments, which is marked at the end with a vertical tower. The tower is open on three sides with elaborate bronze doors decorated with figures depicting the stages of a woman’s life, floral symbols, and Greek inscriptions. Fluted square columns with festoons at their top mark each of the four corners of the tower and support the steeply stepped, ornate bronze roof. The center is occupied by a sculpture of a woman ascending to the afterlife with two figures in the foreground; one is on his knees, the other is standing. The Untermeyer name is inscribed on the base of the tower.

This striking sculpture above is by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney is also buried at Woodlawn buried with her husband, Harry Payne Whitney. We didn’t bump into their grave site.

As mentioned above Samuel Untermyer was also the former owner of one of my favorite places to visit in the lower Hudson Valley: Untermyer Gardens. I’ve posted about it many times:

Untermyer gardens revisited – ruined gatehouse
Untermyer gardens revisited – waterlily
Untermyer gardens revisited – stone lion
Untermyer gardens revisited – a couple of mosaics
Untermyer gardens revisited – the temple of love
Untermyer gardens revisited – the vista
Untermyer gardens revisited – the walled garden
Untermeyr gardens revisited – overview
Upcoming visit to Untermyer Park
Untermyr Park, Yonkers, NY

This post concludes the marathon series from Woodlawn Cemetery. I’d like to go back sometime: to see some of the monuments I missed; take some pictures of the statuary, flowering shrubs and trees.

Next on the list – Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn (unless I manage to get to Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris first).

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