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Henry E. Huntington

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Henry E. Huntington

Henry Edwards Huntington
Born (1850-02-27)February 27, 1850
Oneonta, New York
Died May 23, 1927(1927-05-23) (aged 77)
Residence Huntington Library
San Marino, California

Mary Alice Prentice

Arabella Huntington

Henry Edwards Huntington (February 27, 1850, Oneonta, New York–May 23, 1927, Philadelphia) was an American railroad magnate and collector of art and rare books.[1] Born in Oneonta, New York, Huntington settled in Los Angeles, where he owned the Pacific Electric Railway as well as substantial real estate interests. In addition to being a businessman and art collector, Huntington was a major booster for Los Angeles in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.


  • History in Southern California 1
    • Hotel 1.1
  • Legacy 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4

History in Southern California

Henry E. Huntington was the nephew of Collis P. Huntington, one of The Big Four, the men instrumental in creating the Central Pacific Railroad (later called Southern Pacific), one of the two railroads that built the transcontinental railway in 1869. Huntington held several executive positions working alongside his uncle with the Southern Pacific Transportation Company. After Collis P. Huntington's death, Henry E. Huntington assumed Collis Huntington's leadership role with Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company in Virginia, and married his widow Arabella Huntington. His divorce from his first wife, Mary Alice Prentice, birth sister of his Uncle Collis' adopted daughter, in 1910 and marriage to Arabella in 1913 after Mary Alice's death shocked San Francisco society.[2] He had four children with Mary Alice: Howard Edward, Clara Leonora, Elizabeth Vincent, and Marian Prentice, but none with Arabella. Arabella's son Archer, from her prior marriage from which she was widowed, had earlier been adopted by Collis.

In friendly competition with his uncle's Southern Pacific, in 1898, Huntington purchased the narrow gauge, city oriented Los Angeles Railway (LARy) known colloquially as the 'Yellow Car' system. In 1901 Huntington formed the sprawling interurban, standard gauge Pacific Electric Railway (the PE), known more familiarly as the 'Red Car' system, centered at 6th and Main Streets in Los Angeles. This competition with his uncle's Southern Pacific could be achieved by the need for passenger friendly streetcars, on 24/7 schedules, that the railroads couldn't match—and by the boom in Southern California land development—where houses were built in distant places, like Orange County's Huntington Beach, a Huntington sponsored development, where streetcars served passenger needs that the railroads had never considered. Connectivity to Downtown Los Angeles made such suburbs feasible. The discovery of significant oil reserves in Huntington Beach in the 1920s made residential development unnecessary.

By 1910, the Huntington trolley systems stretched over approximately 1,300 miles (2,100 km) of southern California.[2] At its most robust size, the system contained over 20 streetcar lines and 1,250 trolleys, most running through the core of Los Angeles and serving such nearby neighborhoods as Echo Park, Westlake, Hancock Park, Exposition Park, West Adams, the Crenshaw district, Vernon, Boyle Heights and Lincoln Heights; The system integrated the 1902 acquisition, the Mount Lowe Scenic Railway above Altadena, California in the San Gabriel Mountains.[3]

In 1905 Huntington, A. Kingsley Macomber, and William R. Staats developed the Oak Knoll subdivision, located to the west of his San Marino estate in the oak-covered hilly terrain near Pasadena.

The Huntington Mansion, 1915; now the centerpiece of the Huntington Library.

In 1906 Huntington, along with Frank Miller, owner of the Mission Inn, and Charles M. Loring, formed the Huntington Park Association, with the intent to purchase Mount Rubidoux in Riverside, build a road to the summit, and develop the hill as a park to benefit the city of Riverside.[4] The road was completed in February 1907.[5] The property was later donated to the city of Riverside by the heirs of Frank Miller, and today the hill is a 161-acre (0.65 km2; 0.252 sq mi) city park.

Huntington was a Life Member of the Sons of the Revolution in the State of California.[6]

Huntington retired from active business in 1916. In 1927 Henry E. Huntington died in Philadelphia while undergoing surgery. He is buried, with a large monument, in the Gardens of the Huntington Library.[7]


The Huntington Hotel was originally named Hotel Wentworth when it opened its doors on February 1, 1907. Financial problems and a disappointing first season forced the Hotel Wentworth to close its doors indefinitely. Henry Huntington purchased the Hotel Wentworth in 1911, renaming it the Huntington Hotel. It reopened in 1914, transformed into a beautiful winter resort. The 1920s were a prosperous time for the hotel, as Midwestern and Eastern entrepreneurs discovered California's warm winter climate.

The Hotel's reputation for fine service began with a long-time general manager and later hotel owner Stephen W. Royce. By 1926, the hotel's success prompted Royce to open the property year-round. The "golden years" ended with the stock market crash and the Great Depression of the late 1920s and early 1930s. However, by the end of the 1930s the hotel was back on solid ground. When World War II began, all reservations were cancelled and the hotel was rented to the Army for $3,000 a month. Following the war, the Huntington's fortune turned upwards once again. In 1954 Stephen Royce sold the hotel to the Sheraton Corporation remaining as the general manager until his retirement in 1969. The hotel continued operating until 1985 when it was forced to close because of its inability to meet earthquake standards. The unusual structure was completely built of un-reinforced concrete as it was built in 1906.

After a two and a half year major renovation the hotel reopened in March 1991 as the Ritz Carlton Huntington Hotel and Spa. The hotel completed a 19 million dollar renovation in Jan 2006. The hotel changed hands in early 2007 and became Langham Brand International, Huntington Hotel & Spa.


Huntington left a prominent legacy with the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens on his former estate San Marino near Pasadena. Other legacies in California includes the cities Huntington Beach and Huntington Park, as well as Huntington Lake.

Also in greater Los Angeles are the Huntington Hospital in Pasadena, Henry E. Huntington Middle School in San Marino, and the grand boulevard, Huntington Drive, running east bound from downtown Los Angeles. Its landscaped central parkway was previously the right-of-way for the Northern Division of the Pacific Electric.

Postcard of sightseers, circa 1910, driving up Mount Rubidoux in Riverside, California via Huntington Drive.

Riverside's city park on Mount Rubidoux was originally named Huntington Park, and the road to the top was named Huntington Drive.[8] After Frank Miller's heirs donated the property to the city, the city renamed the park the Frank A. Miller Rubidoux Memorial Park, and the road has become known as Mount Rubidoux Drive. A plaque that was dedicated to Huntington in 1907, in recognition of his contributions to the development of Mount Rubidoux, remains on a large boulder known as Huntington Rock.[9] After Huntington's death a second tablet was placed on the north side of the hill at a place named the Huntington Shrine.[10]

His legacy on the East Coast includes: the Huntington Park on the James River in Newport News, Virginia at one end of the James River Bridge, community landmark named in his honor; and the Huntington Memorial Library in Oneonta, New York,[11]

As well as a portrait by Oswald Birley at the Huntington Library portraits of Huntington were also painted by the Swiss-born American artist Adolfo Müller-Ury who built a studio less than a mile from Huntington's estate in San Marino in 1924-25: a full-length, based on a photograph, is at the Collis Potter & Howard Edwards Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, and two seated versions, a small one of which was acquired by Huntington's son-in-law John Metcalf, and a larger one (which is presumed lost) which was engraved by an artist called Witherspoon in 1928. The artist also painted Huntington's granddaughter Mary Brockway Metcalf (and this is on long-term loan to the offices of the Director of the Huntington Library and Art Gallery).


  1. ^ Portrait of Henry E. Huntington, ca.1900. University of Southern California, USC Digital Library. Retrieved 2010-05-30.
  2. ^ Friedricks.
  3. ^ Henry E. Huntington, The Electronic Railway Historical Association of Southern California. Retrieved 2010-05-30.
  4. ^ Gale, pages 155-156.
  5. ^ Hutchings, page 11 (unnumbered).
  6. ^ Breithaupt, page 369.
  7. ^ Henry E. Huntington at Find a Grave
  8. ^ Brown, page 478.
  9. ^ Hutchings, page 12 (unnumbered).
  10. ^ Wenzel, Anecdotes ..., page 130.
  11. ^ Huntington Memorial Library (2006). "Library Information: History". Retrieved 2007-04-08. 
  • Breithaupt, Jr., Richard Hoag, 1994, Sons of the Revolution in the State of California. Centennial Register 1893-1993, Walika Publishing Company, ISBN 1-886085-00-5
  • Brown, John jr and Boyd, James. History of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties, Lewis Publishing, 1922.
  • Dickinson, Donald C., 1995,Henry E. Huntington's Library of Libraries, Huntington Library Press,ISBN 978-0-87328-153-9
  • Friedricks, William B., 1992, Henry E. Huntington and the Creation of Southern California,Ohio State University, ISBN 978-0-8142-0553-2
  • Gale, Zona. Frank Miller of the Mission Inn, New York, D. Appleton-Century Company, 1938.
  • Hutchings, DeWitt V. The Story of Mount Rubidoux, Riverside, California.
  • Thorpe, James, 1994, Henry Edwards Huntington, A Biography, University of California Press, ISBN 0-520-08254-0
  • Wenzel, Glenn. Anecdotes on Mount Rubidoux and Frank A. Miller, Her Promoter, Glenn E. Wenzel, 2010. ISBN 978-1-4507-0502-8

External links

  • Find A Grave, Henry Edwards Huntington
  • Find A Grave, Arabelle Huntington
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