Posted by: Jim Bell | February 9, 2011

Robert Lenox of Kirkcudbright and New York

The late Mr. Robert Lenox was a self-made man. He was, when he first began, an entire stranger in the city, where the name of Lenox is now so greatly venerated because of the noble deeds of charity and the lavish donations for religious and literary purposes of his only son, James Lenox. Mr. Robert Lenox commenced business in 1783 — the year before John Jacob Astor arrived — and remained there permanently until his death, which took place in December, 1839, in the eighty first year of his age. For many years his operations greatly exceeded those of any other merchant in the country at that day. He became eventually one of the most successful merchants in the United States. Mr Lenox invested his wealth most in city real estate. In I8I7 and 1818 he bought for less than $7,000 about thirty-six acres of land running from Sixty-eighth to Seventy-fourth St., between Fourth and Fifth avenues, known as the “Lenox farm,” much of which is now covered with first-class brown stone houses. The enormous increase in the value of this land, sold for the most part at top prices between 1804 and 1872, gives Mr. James Lenox a high rank among the New York millionaires. The Lenox farm to-day, without a brick on it, would be worth $8,000,000. While the Lenox fortune is modest, indeed, compared with the colossal accumulations of the Astors, Vanderbilts and Stewarts, we venture to hazard the opinion that Mr. James Lenox has quietly given away as much as the late Mr. Peabody. His donations in land and money to charitable, literary and religious institutions situated on the Lenox farm alone amount to over $2,500,000. This is a noble example to those who wield the great fortunes of New York. It is to be regretted that the name of Lenox, so far as the founder of the family is concerned, dies with the present Mr. Lenox, a bachelor now advanced in years. As long as New York exists his memory shall be remembered and cherished.

Daily Globe. (St. Paul, Minn.)  January 04, 1880


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