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Washington Arch records

Call Number

MS 443.30


1872-1925 (Bulk 1872-1925), inclusive


Stewart, William Rhinelander


3 Linear feet in 7 boxes + 1 oversize folder.

Language of Materials

The documents in the collection are in English.


The collection contains material relating to William Rhinelander Stewart's time on the Washington Memorial Arch Committee which raised funds to erect the Arch in Washington Square Park.

Historical Note

Historical Note

Jan.- March 1889 William Rhinelander Stewart conceived the idea to build a temporary Triumphal Arch in Washington Square Park to celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of the inauguration of George Washington as the first President of the United States. Stewart becomes treasurer of the Washington Arch Fund, architect Stanford White designs the Arch free of charge, and Joseph Cabus builds the Arch.
April 1889 Funded on donations from local residents, a temporary wooden Arch is erected in time for the celebratory parade for the centennial of Washington's inauguration.
May 1889 The Committee for the Erection of the Washington Memorial Arch was organized to create a permanent replacement arch. It appoints Henry G. Marquand as Chairman, Louis Fitzgerald as Vice-Chairman, Richard Watson Gilder as Secretary, and William R. Stewart as Treasurer and selects Stanford White as the designer of the new arch.
Sept. 1889 Donations to the Washington Arch Fund reach $50,000 of the $100,000 estimated to complete the Arch's construction.
April 1890 David H. King, Jr., the builder of the Pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, is awarded the contract to build the Arch. He agrees to build the Arch for cost and waive his usual ten percent commission.
May 1890 Work upon the foundation is completed, and the laying of the corner-stone ceremony takes place.
Dec. 1890 The first block of marble is laid and construction continues throughout the winter.
Feb. 1891 Although the Arch Fund reaches $90,000, it is decided that more money is needed due to the change in plans to build a larger Arch with more complex ornamentation.
April 1892 The construction of the Arch comes to a close and donations to the Washington Arch Fund reach $121,907.50.
May 1895 The Washington Arch is formally dedicated and placed under the jurisdiction of city authorities.
1916 With money raised from the Washington Arch Statuary Fund, Hermon A. MacNeil completes his sculpture portraying Washington in his military uniform on the East Pedestal of the Arch.
1918 A. Stirling Calder's sculpture on the West Pedestal featuring Washington in his civilian clothing, also financed by the Statuary Fund, is completed.

Biographical Note

Biographical Note

1852 William Rhinelander Stewart born on December 3rd to Lispenard and Mary Rogers (Rhinelander) Stewart.
1873 Stewart graduates from Columbia University Law School. He later gives up practicing law and devotes his professional career to philanthropy and the management of estates.
1880 He is chosen as Superintendent of the Mission Sunday School of Grace Chapel.
1882 Stewart appointed as commissioner for the first judicial district on the state board of charities. He continues to serve on this organization for forty-seven years.
1889 Stewart develops the idea of constructing the Washington Arch in Washington Square and serves as treasurer of the committee.
1895 Stewart formally presents Mayor William Strong with the key to the Arch, signifying the formal transfer of the Arch to city authorities.
1898 He is elected president of the National Conference of Charities and Corrections.
1900 Stewart organizes the New York State Conference of Charities and Corrections
1908-1929 He is president of the Rhinelander Real Estate Company.
1910 Stewart founds the New York City Conference of Charities and Corrections.
1911 He publishes his book The Philanthropic Work of Josephine Shaw Lowell, New York: Grace House, 1906.
1924 He publishes Grace Church and Old New York, New York: E. P. Dutton & company, 1924.
1929 Stewart dies on September 4th in New York City.


Most of the collection is arranged by type of material. The incoming correspondence is arranged alphabetically according to the sender's last name, and the outgoing correspondence is located in letterpress books that are in chronological order.

The papers are arranged into the following series:

Missing Title

  1. Series I: Administrative Records
  2. Series II: Correspondence
  3. Series III: Fundraising Records
  4. Series IV: Centennial Celebration and Dedication Ceremonies
  5. Series V: Depictions of Washington Arch
  6. Series VI: Drafts and Publications
  7. Series VII: Newspapers
  8. Series VIII: Personal Materials of William Rhinelander Stewart

Scope and Content Note

This collection is comprised of materials relating to William Rhinelander Stewart's work on the Washington Memorial Arch Committee. Because Stewart was the Treasurer of the Washington Arch Fund and the Washington Arch Statuary Fund, much of the material documents fundraising and financial activities. The collection consists of administrative information, correspondence with subscribers and committee members, fundraising records, material relating to ceremonies involving the Arch, prints and photographs of the Arch, drafts and publications, and newspaper clippings. A short biography and some personal correspondence, programs, invitations, and estate information of William Rhinelander Stewart is also included.

The collection mainly documents the administrative activities, such as fundraising and the contracting of architects and sculptors, involved in the building of the Washington Arch. Items of interest include letters from Theodore Roosevelt and Grover Cleveland (originals transferred to the appropriate Miscellaneous Manuscripts collection, copies remain in their place) and photographs and programs from the dedication ceremony for the Washington Arch.

Access Restrictions

Materials in this collection may be stored offsite. For more information on making arrangements to consult them, please visit

Use Restrictions

Taking images of documents from the library collections for reference purposes by using hand-held cameras and in accordance with the library's photography guidelines is encouraged. As an alternative, patrons may request up to 20 images per day from staff.

Application to use images from this collection for publication should be made in writing to: Department of Rights and Reproductions, The New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024-5194, Phone: (212) 873-3400 ext. 282.

Copyrights and other proprietary rights may subsist in individuals and entities other than the New-York Historical Society, in which case the patron is responsible for securing permission from those parties. For fuller information about rights and reproductions from N-YHS visit:

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as New York City -- Washington Arch, MS 443.30, New-York Historical Society.

Location of Materials

Materials in this collection may be stored offsite. For more information on making arrangements to consult them, please visit

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donation of William R. Stewart, 1923-1925.

Separated Material

The tracing paper plans of the Arch dedication ceremony and seating arrangements have been separated to oversize. Letters in the collection to William R. Stewart from Theodore Roosevelt and Grover Cleveland have been replaced with photocopies and originals moved to Miscellaneous Manuscripts, Roosevelt, Theodore and Miscellaneous Manuscripts, Cleveland, Grover respectively.

Related Material at The New-York Historical Society

One folder relating to William Rhinelander Stewart can be found housed under the call phrase Misc. Mss. Stewart, William R.

Collection processed by

Liz Arena

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2023-08-21 15:46:30 -0400.
Language: Description is in English.

Edition of this Guide

This version was derived from WashArch01mb.xml


New-York Historical Society
New-York Historical Society
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