- Lila Osgood Vanderbilt Webb
- William Seward Webb
- Vanderbilt Webb
- Derick Webb
- Frederick Law Olmsted
- Robert H. Robertson
Eliza Osgood Vanderbilt (Lila) was the youngest daughter and eighth child of William Henry and Maria Louisa Vanderbilt. She attended Miss Porter’s School, a boarding school for wealthy adolescent girls in Farmington, Connecticut. In 1881, she married Seward Webb, and they had four children: Frederica, James Watson, William Seward, Jr., and Vanderbilt. Lila’s $10 million family inheritance largely funded the construction of Shelburne Farms, where she directed all aspects of the household: planning meals, hiring servants, hosting guests, and interior decorating and garden design. Lila enjoyed playing golf and card games (particularly bridge), gardening, and traveling. She was an avid reader, often devouring up to three books a day. Despite growing hearing loss, she hosted large groups of guests at her residences until her death at Shelburne Farms in 1936.
Seward (as he was known) was a native of New York City, and graduated as a surgeon from Columbia College in 1875. He met Lila Vanderbilt at a dance in New York in 1877 and they married in 1881. They had four children: Frederica, James Watson, William Seward, Jr., and Vanderbilt. In 1883, Seward entered the Vanderbilt family railway businesses as President of both the Wagner Palace Car Company and the St. Lawrence & Adirondack Railroad. He and Lila often hosted state and national dignitaries at Shelburne Farms, including Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Taft. He represented the town of Shelburne in the state legislature from 1896 to 1898. In his later years, Seward developed severe rheumatoid arthritis, and eventually became addicted to the morphine prescribed to lessen the pain. He began to withdraw from business affairs and social events, and died at Shelburne Farms in 1926.
One of the country’s first landscape architects, Olmsted created places that nourished the mind and spirit, from urban parks to suburbs, estates, farms, and wildlife sanctuaries. He emphasized the duty of a democratic society to ensure that people have access to natural beauty. His major works include Central Park in New York City (1858-1878), Mount Royal Park in Montr