Died: August 17, 1938
Married: Emma Cahn
Children: Samuel Lewisohn, Frances Lehman
New York Times, August 18, 1938
ADOLPH LEWISOHN DIES AT AGE OF 89
Banker, Donor of the Stadium Named for Him, Aided Great Variety of Charities
By The Associated Press.
SARANAC LAKE, N. Y., Aug:. 17. —Adolph Lewisohn, New York investment broker and philanthropist, died, today at his Summer home on Upper Saranac Lake. He was 89 years old.
Members of the family said death resulted from a heart attack. With him when he died were his son and daughter-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Lewisohn, and several grandchildren.
His daughter, Mrs. Arthur Lehman, a. sister-in-law of Governor Herbert H. Lehman, is in Europe.
The body will be taken to New York and funeral services will be held at Temple Emanu-El, Sixty-fifth Street and Fifth Avenue, tomorrow at 11 A. M.
Mr. Lewisohn, a native of Germany who came to this country seventy-one years ago, was president of the firm of Adolph Lewisohn & Sons in New York and headed many mining companies, including the Tennessee Corporation, the Central Development Company, Miami Copper Company and the South American Gold and Platinum Company.
He made a number of large gifts to educational and charitable institutions. Among these was a gift of $300,000 to Columbia University for construction of its School of Mines building, and the Lewisohn Stadium of the College of the City of New York.,
Successful and Happy.
When Adolph Lewisohn was 80 years old he remarked in a letter to The New York Times that he was successful and happy. He had certain aims in life and these he achieved. He had also certain hobbies and these he nursed through the years. A characteristic which made him beloved by most people with whom he came into contact was his unfailing cheerfulness.
He sang, much to the delight of his guests, on his eighty-second birthday, and it was perhaps this interest in life and what is good and beautiful in life that kept him young.
This practice of singing at his birthday parties continued to the close of his life. He did not, however, offer any vocal selections the evening in 1924 when Albert Einstein, the physicist, made his American debut as an amateur violinist before many guests at the Lewisohn mansion.
On his eighty-fifth birthday he received many messages. Among the well wishers was President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The message that gave him most pleasure, however, came from the Mutual Welfare League at Sing Sing Prison which he had aided for many years.
In 1937 he celebrated his eighty-eighth birthday by attending a luncheon in Manhattan, visiting a motion-picture show, and then entertaining forty-two guests at dinner at Hetherdell Farm, his estate at Ardsley.
This year he marked the anniversary by singing arias in several languages and by expressing pride in the fact that he still "went to work" having attended two directors' meetings the day before. Mr. Lewisohn gave generously to worthy causes. There are in New York monuments of his generosity like the Lewisohn Stadium at City College and the School of Mines, and Columbia University. But there are hundreds of philanthropies unrecorded, for Adolph Lewisohn took delight in helping where the need was real. Thousands of orphans have enjoyed a happy childhood in the homes that he endowed, and hundreds of thousands have been enabled to hear fine music at popular prices through his vision and generosity. He worked ceaseless[ly] for improvement in prison conditions, and he never spared himself in any cause or movement which he considered just.
Mr. Lewisohn explained this love of life and action in his letter The Times.
"I love the beautiful," he wrote. "Rich coloring has a good effect upon me. I have always been fond of flowers, music and art in all its forms. My tendency to love beautiful colors has led me in art to be particularly fond of modern paintings of the so-called impressionist school. I have seldom, if ever been idle, being occupied constantly, particularly in matters in which I am interested. I have been active in business for sixty-four years having entered my father's business in Hamburg when I was 15 years old, and I am still active in business particularly in mining, in a consulting capacity.
"Whatever I have undertaken has been successful. Of course, there sometimes have been difficulties but I have been able to overcome them.
"My aim in life has always been to do something that in my opinion makes an improvement in the world or in the people, to improve the condition of people in all the different walks of life, according to my opinion. It has always been my aim and has given me satisfaction that I have succeeded to bring about such improvement. This desire to help in the improvement of the people generally led me to be interested particularly in the proper care of dependent children and prison reform—proper treatment [of]prisoners, to so treat them that they are likely to be able to take care of themselves and their families after their discharge, and that they may become again good members of the general community. That has led me indirectly to be interested in the prevention and reduction of crime.
Came From Hamburg In 1867.
Mr. Lewisohn was born in Hamburg on May 27, 1849. He came to the United States on Aug. 1, 1867, and soon became a successful business man. His chief interests were in mining. He was president of the Tennessee Copper and Chemical Corporation, the General Development Company, the Miami Copper Company and the South American Gold and Platinum Company, most of the fields of which are in Colombia.
With all his ventures successful Mr. Lewisohn was not concerned about building up a huge person[al] fortune and enjoying the fruits of his labors by himself. Instead, he set out with characteristic cheer to distribute cheer. Twenty years ago he had given away nearly $2,000,000 for buildings and for support and maintenance of various institution[s]. He gave without regard to race, creed or color; not indiscriminate[ly] but where it did most good.
Mr. Lewisohn was often described as a model humanitarian. He was tenacious in his struggle for prison reform, and his years of effort finally won in 1928 Governor Alfred E. Smith's endorsement of his plan for bettered conditions.
His love of music and art helped hundreds of individuals to a high culture. The Summer concerts [at] Lewisohn Stadium were originate[d] by him. He had promoted the "park concerts" with Arnold Volpe's band in 1917. But the stadium was the logical place for open-air concerts and on June 23, 1918, the first concert was given there before an audience of 5,000 by the Stadium Symphony Orchestra, directed by Mr. Volpe. The success was immediate, and Mr. Lewisohn received the congratulations of the War Department for his furtherance "of movement to brighten and uplift the morals of the people by furnishing high-class musical relaxation at popular prices."
The next Summer the stadium concerts lasted through eight weeks. At the opening concert, which Rosa Ponselle sang, Mr. Lewisohn addressed 9,000 people.
In 1909 Mr. Lewisohn purchased the residence at 881 Fifth Avenue from Mrs. H. H. Harriman for $800,000. This became the rendezvous of many fruitful gatherings, and here grew the collection of art and antiques and the fine library which contains hundreds rare volumes.
Some of Chief Contributions.
Mr. Lewisohn's contributions—by no means all of them—include the following: Columbia University School of Mines, $300,000; Mount Sinai Pathological Laboratory at Mount Sinai Hospital, $300,000; Lewisohn Stadium for the College of the City of New York and a Library of 1,500 rare volumes of German literature for the same institution; various sums approaching $200,000 for the Federation for the Support of Jewish Philanthropic Societies of New York City; Hebrew Sheltering Guardian Society two larger gifts of $150,000 and $100,000 and many other sums; Hebrew Technical School for Girls, non-sectarian institution, $140,000; Jewish Protectory, $50,000; the Committee for Lighthouses for the Blind, $5,000; Hebrew Free Loan Society $10,000; a nucleus for a fund [to] establish the Lewisohn Chamber Music Educational Course at Hunter College; the establishment of fellowship in Wilmer Institute [at] Johns Hopkins University, $30,000; Wissenschaftliche Stiftung (Scientific Foundation) at Hamburg, $25,000.
These were but a few of his larger donations. But he gave not money alone. Mr. Lewisohn followed up with interest and advice what he had provided in monetary contribution. He was recognized as an eminently civic-spirited man. As such he took part in many movements for the improvement of conditions both municipally and nationally. He was one of the leading spirits in the National Thrift Week movement. His advice in financial matters was often sought and generally followed.
In 1917 The American Hebrew, in its July issue, published a series of tributes to Mr. Lewisohn on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of his coming to America by the late President Taft, ex-Governor Charles S. Whitman, the late Mayor John Purrov Mitchel, Governor Samuel W. McCall of Massachusetts, the late Senator Dwight W. Morrow, Daniel Guggenheim, Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler and George McAneny.
A memorable day in Mr. Lewisohn's life was Oct. 20, 1912, when the new cottage home of the Hebrew Sheltering Guardian Society was dedicated at Pleasantville, Westchester County. It had been built on a tract of 200 acres and consisted of 29 buildings, of which [missing section]
institution at Broadway and 150th Street, Mr. Lewisohn's brother, the late Leonard Lewisohn, had worked for many years for the welfare of these orphans.
In 1913 Mr. Lewisohn announced the gift of the great stadium to City College. On Nov. 6. 1913, ground was broken and on May 29, 1915, the stadium was dedicated. A bronze tablet bore the following inscription:
Erected and Presented to the College of the City of New York By
In the Year 1914.
Gives German Library to College.
Six months before he announced the gift of the stadium Mr. Lewisohn presented his library of 1,500 German volumes to City College, This was done in the presence of the German Ambassador, Count von Bernstorff [see also White Pine Camp], Andrew Carnegie, Seth Low, Professor Eucken, Dr. John H. Finley, then president of City College, and many others. The collection included a set of the famous Weimar edition of Goethe's works.
On the occasion of the dedication of the stadium special exercises were held, as well as a performance of Gilbert Murray's translation of Euripides's "The Trojan Women," under the direction of the late Granville Barker.
In 1915 Mr. Lewisohn urged a plan whereby the city would borrow its money directly from the citizens, so that they might purchase city securities "over the counter."
In 1917 Mr. Lewisohn was a member of the executive committee of the Committee of 250. As such he defended the fusion government, which he declared was "well started on its way, despite the handicap left by the incompetence of generations of bad government."
He advocated the payment of taxes in installments, and he urged government survey of all unoccupied land and the listing of such lands as were suitable for planting. At his Summer home at Ardsley-on-the-Hudson were some of the finest gardens in America. A specimen of what was produced there was the famous Lewisohn chrysanthemum bush, which measured 17 feet in diameter and was 6 feet high. This horticultural phenomenon was exhibited in the American Museum of Natural History, a triumph of the gardener's art.
In 1919 Mayor Hylan presented to Mr. Lewisohn a large American flag in recognition of his patriotic and public services.
Gets $30,000 for Prison Reform.
Mr. Lewisohn was president of the National Committee on Prisons and Prison Labor- On his seventieth birthday representatives of the committee presented to him $30,000 for use in prison reform work. In December, 1919, he engaged the services of experts to inspect Sing Sing and Auburn prisons. He always urged fair wages for prison labor, so that the delinquents would not lose their self-respect, and he continually worked for hygienic conditions in the penal institutions of the country.
In 1922 Mr. Lewisohn was president of the Public Safety Traffic League, and the next year he was chairman of the Committee of National Thrift Week.
Always a patron of art, Mr. Lewisohn had a splendid personal collection, but he also gave freely, notably to Brooklyn Museum, which, through his generosity, acquired "The Awakening," a statue by Maurice Sterne; "Selina," a bust by Jacob Epstein, and "Eve and the Apple," by the Danish artist, Kaj Nielsen. This group, to which additions were made, is known as the "Adolph Lewisohn Gift Collection."
In September, 1924, Mr. Lewisohn founded the Ort, a philanthropic organization for the establishment in Europe of trade and agricultural training schools for Jews who became impoverished in the World War.
In January, 1932, plans for the establishment of a chamber music foundation that will serve for music the same purpose that a public library does for literature were announced at a testimonial concert for Mr. Lewisohn at Hunter College.
GOVERNOR DEEPLY GRIEVED
He Recalls Knowing Lewisohn Since Early Boyhood
Special to The New York Times.
ALBANY, Aug. 17.—When asked for comment tonight on the death of Adolph Lewisohn, Governor Lehman, brother-in-law of Mr. Lewisohn's daughter, issued the following statement:
"I am deeply grieved to hear of the death of Adolph Lewisohn, whom I have known ever since my early boyhood. Mr. Lewisohn was a leader in the business life of the country, a great philanthropist and a sympathetic patron of music and art. He will always be remembered for his leadership in enlightened child-care, in which he was a pioneer. His was a long and full life of useful and unselfish service. Mrs. Lehman and I extend our deep sympathy to his family."