Picture of Harry riding with his riding mechanician 1904 in his 60 h.p. Mercedes in first race of “Climb to the Clouds”
Among the Clouds was a seasonal newspaper published atop New Hampshire’s Mount Washington in the late 1800s into early 1900s. The title is fitting for this scene from 1904. Thanks to the camera work of F.W. Spooner, and the courtesy of the Roadsters Club of Massachusetts, we can enjoy this glimpse of the first “Climb to the Clouds” auto race to the summit.
The year was 1904. Spooner’s vantage point was along the approach to the summit end of the Mt. Washington Stage Road (they would later modify the name to embrace transportational changes). Wouldn’t we love to have a sound track for this scene of Harry Harkness, hurtling toward us on his 60 h.p. Mercedes. The 8+ mile “Stage Road” had hundreds of water bars to minimize erosion of the road’s gravel surface. Mr. Harkness and riding mechanician must have looked forward to the end of it.
Lamon V. Harkness
|Lamon V. Harkness|
|Died||January 17, 1915
|Resting place||Woodlawn Cemetery|
|Residence||New York City|
|Children||Harry S. (1877-1919)|
|Parents||Stephen V. Harkness|
Lamon Vanderburgh Harkness (1839 – January 17, 1915) was an American businessman and a partner in Standard Oil who was one of the company’s largest stockholders. Lamon V. Harkness became involved with Standard Oil through his father Stephen V. Harkness who was a primary silent investor in the formation of Standard Oil and Henry Flagler who was Lamon’s step-nephew and eventually his son in law.
Born in Bellevue, Ohio, he was the son of Stephen V. Harkness and his first wife, Laura Osborne. As a young man he entered the cattle business in Kansas City, Missouri before returning to Greenwich, Connecticut following the death of his father in 1888.
Walnut Hall Farm
Following on a trip to Kentucky in 1892, Lamon Harkness acquired a 400-acre (1.6 km2) farm in Donerail, Kentucky that he named Walnut Hall Farm. There, he developed a Standardbred horse breeding operation of major importance to the harness racing industry. In recognition of his contribution to the industry, in 1958 Lamon Harkness was inducted posthumously in the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame. Although sub-divided several times, a part of which is now home to the Kentucky Horse Park, Walnut Farm remains in the hands of descendants.
In addition to a home at Walnut Hall Farm, Lamon Harkness owned several homes including a mansion at 933 Fifth Avenue in New York City. He died at another home in Pasadena, California in 1915, leaving on estate of approximately $100 million. Predeceased by his wife, they are buried together in Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx, New York.
Stephen V. Harkness
|Stephen Vanderburgh Harkness|
|Born||November 18, 1818
|Died||March 6, 1888(1888-03-06) (aged 69)
New Hyde Park, New York
|Resting place||Woodlawn Cemetery|
|Residence||New York City|
|Spouse||1) Laura Osborne
2) Anna M. Richardson
|Children||Lamon V. (1850-1915)
William L. (1858-1919)
Charles W. (1860-1919)
Edward S. (1874-1940)
Stephen Vanderburgh Harkness (November 18, 1818 – March 6, 1888) was an American businessman from Cleveland, Ohio, who invested as a silent partner with oil titan John D. Rockefeller, Sr. in the founding of Standard Oil.
Born in Fayette, New York, he was the son of Dr. David Harkness and his first wife who died in 1820. His father relocated to the Western Reserve region of Northeast Ohio, settling in Milan where he remarried to Elizabeth Caldwell Morrison. David Harkness died in 1825 and his widow later returned to Seneca County, New York where she remarried to the Reverend Isaac Flagler, a Presbyterian minister in Milton, New York with whom she had a son, Henry Flagler. David Harkness had a younger brother, Lamon G. Harkness, who was also a doctor but who became a successful businessman in Bellevue, Ohio.
At age twenty-one, after finishing his apprenticeship as a harnessmaker, Stephen Harkness moved to Bellevue, Ohio. Harkness worked for a time in harnessmaking but in 1855 set up a distillery in Monroeville, Ohio that was a success. Within a few years he organized a bank and in 1864 formed a partnership with Wm. Halsey Doan to provide crude oil to refineries – that made him a rich man. In 1866 he sold his Monroeville businesses and moved to Cleveland. There, he joined Henry Flagler in investing in Rockefeller, Andrews & Flagler, the firm that became eventually Standard Oil. Harkness became its second largest shareholder; the company’s success made him enormously wealthy. Although Stephen Harkness was a silent partner, he was a member of Standard Oil’s Board of Directors until his death in 1888.
After his death, Anna M. Harkness, Harkness’s second wife, established the Commonwealth Fund, a foundation dedicated to the improvement of healthcare. Their second son, Edward Harkness, was an important philanthropist.
Three sons (Anna was the mother of the third son, Charles, and the fourth, Edward) helped found and sustain The Third Society, later known as Wolf’s Head Society, at Yale University, in 1883. William, the second son by Laura Osborne, was also a member; their Yale Classes were William, 1881, Charles, 1883, and Edward, 1897.
Including Anna’s philanthropy, the family made possible the residential college system at Yale as well as the house system at Harvard. At Yale, their donated buildings include the Memorial Quadrangle, Harkness Tower, William L. Harkness Hall, and the new or second hall for Wolf’s Head Society on York Street, New Haven, CT.
October 10, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Concert to Honor Historic Steinway & Sons’ Grand Piano – a 1918 Gem Which Belonged to Harry S. Harkness and Has Just Surfaced After Many Years.
When Henry Steinway laid eyes on the grand piano by Steinway & Sons built in 1918 that once belonged to the very notable Harry S. Harkness, he said, ” This belongs in a museum. She’s a beauty!”
In honor of this stunning museum-worthy Steinway & Sons Model B Grand Piano, a concert will be held on October 27th at the Ralston Mansion in Belmont, California. The featured guest will, of course, be the grand piano. This is the first time that this beautiful instrument with its fascinating history has been available for purchase.
Having been restored to it’s original beauty, including the 24 karat gold leaf patina highlighting the detailed carvings, this piano is one of the most expensive pianos built during that era. With the magnificence of it’s tone and beautiful art case this piece of American history brings with it the allure of an intriguing past and more than a hint of drama and romantic mystery.
Harry S. Harkness, who has been referred to as the Howard Hughes of his era, was one of the pioneers in early aviation as well as an acclaimed automobile racer who raced against Henry Ford and awarded his Harkness Trophy to Louis Chevrolet. Harry was also a yachtsman who actually leased his yacht to the U.S. Navy in World War I and which was credited with sinking three German U-boats. Harry’s father, Lamon Harkness, was one of the largest stockholders in Standard Oil when the Rockefellers were just starting the company.
In 1918 Harry purchased the Steinway & Sons Model B grand piano for his lovely second bride, Florence Harkness, as he reportedly enjoyed lavishing her with expensive gifts. Harry had the piano art case contracted to be built by the master furniture craftsmen of the time, Schmieg/Hungate/Kotzian. Sadly, Harry died of influenza in 1919 in the global disaster of the flu pandemic that swept across the world killing up to 40 million people. Harry was never able to present this spectacular gift to his wife as the art case had not been completed when Harry died. Shortly after his death, the piano was delivered to his wife’s door.
The concert celebrating this exquisite piano will feature Theodora Martin, an 18 year-old piano phenom. Born in Bucharest, Romania, Theodora has won numerous national and international competitions, taking first place in many of them. Also performing will be the talented Marcia Cope-Hart, soprano, who is currently performing with “Phantom of the Opera” in the Las Vegas spectacular. Marcia has performed with such greats as Luciano Pavarotti, Beverly Sills and Renata Scotto. Adding a lively kick to the event the ever fabulous Kaye Boyler will also be performing. Her rich sultry sound never fails to captivate.
HARKNESS THE LATEST
Record Between Boston and New York Slashed by Two Complete Hours on Monday – Motor Age Chicago
New York, June 1904 21—Harry S. Harkness, of this city, who has won fame as a track racer and as designer of an original racing machine, made a big cut of the Boston to New York record yesterday. Driving his new 60-horsepower Mercedes car, he made the run of 244 miles from the Boston Athletic Club to the Central Bridge in 6 hours 41 minutes elapsed time, or 6 hours 4 minutes running time. The previous elapsed time record of 10 hours 40 minutes was held by Harry Fosdick and the Winton, and the running time record of 8 hours 42 minutes by C. A. F. Phizenmayer and the Locomobile. Fosdick’s running time was 8 hours 54 minutes. Mr. Harkness drove his car to Boston on Friday to study the course. He left the B. A. A. at 3:15 a. m., having with him his chauffeur, Joseph Jagersberger, who sat on the floor, strapped in. Two stops of consequence were made to repair tires, one of 18 and the other of 19 minutes.
Telling of his ride, Mr. Harkness said: “We left the club in Boston at 3:15. At the very start we made speed. It was dark, of course. I didn’t carry a headlight. I could see well enough ahead.
“Through the Boston suburbs we flew along at 60 miles an hour. The police were bobbing up all along. To get by them, I ran close to the curb, just a few inches away. The trees and telegraph poles served to shield us. We began to have trouble before we got to Marlborough, where we lost the road. Only one foot brake was working. The other was clogged and the hand brake was gone. Then, the hood over the motors kept lifting, flying back in our laps. Jagersberger, half the time, was lying on top of it, holding it down. (Next time, we’ll strap it.) The vibration would loosen the fastenings, and the wind would throw it up.
“We got to Worcester at 5:05. At Windsor Locks, we had a puncture. We fixed it in 8 minutes, nearly record time. Then we were off again. We got to Hartford at 6:54. I ate half of a sandwich, drank a little milk and took on some gasoline and water. We were away at 7:04. We had another puncture at North Haven and fixed that one in 19 minutes. Luck was with us.
“It was 8:10 when we hit New Haven. On the level and down grade we made great time. We got to Stamford at 9:19. When we neared New Rochelle we slowed up. We knew we had the record and didn’t want to be stopped. We came down through the Bronx at 10 miles an hour. It was just 10:10 when we reached Central bridge.”
His best run was the 53 miles from Worcester to Springfield, which he covered in an hour. The average time was about 43 miles an hour. Mr. Harkness declares that his speedometer registered as high as 83 miles an hour. The time at the start was taken by the Chronograph club.
Harry S. Harkness
WHEN the big Mercedes car ran away from everything at the Brighton Beach track two weeks ago, the question on everybody’s lips was “Who’s Harkness?” That he was a chauffeur of undeniable nerve and skill, everyone who saw him swing his ponderous machine around the track’s sharp corners, allowed. But who he was, or where he came from, was a puzzle which lent additional interest to his brilliant performance.
Harry S. Harkness is the son of Mr. L. V. Harkness, a Standard Oil man, who resides at 933 Fifth avenue, New York. Young Harkness, who is in his 25th year, inherits his love for sport from his father, the latter being one of the best known, and, withal, most modest sportsmen on the American turf. Four years ago, the subject of this sketch purchased his first automobile, a Locomobile, on which he made many trips in and around New York, and subsequently through California. Having disposed of this machine, he bought an Orient motor tricycle, but after a few months sold this and returned to his first love, the Locomobile. In his second machine he made several trips from New York to Boston, to the Thousand Isles, and hack. In September, last year, he went to Paris, where he received his first lesson in steering a big automobile. Beginning with a Mors 10-hp., he subsequently bought a Mercedes 12-hp., then a Panhard 40-hp., and finally the big Mercedes, in which he first showed his ability as a driver on an American track at Brighton Beach. This machine he has dubbed “The Crimson Cyclone.”
Having demonstrated his fitness to class in the front rank of American drivers, with a Vanderbilt, Bostwick, Foxhall Keene, Bishop, etc., young Harkness has a laudable ambition to aim at the highest honors in the automobile world, namely, to lift the Gordon Bennett trophy. When the American team goes to England next June to compete for this prize, he will be on hand with a machine of his own, American built, of course, and, with a modicum of good fortune, he ought to be heard from among the first to reach the winning post.
The house was a unique collaboration between a great architect, a great industrial and interior designer, a great lighting designer, a great landscape architect, and enlightened and wealthy owners. Today, it retains most of its original Donald Deskey-designed furnishings. Among them: a unique Schmieg Hungate Kotzian-bodied Steinway piano which George Gershwin, a modern design enthusiast, played during his visits to admire the house in the 1930’s; an illuminated chrome and white bakelite dining table; and an illuminated large curved buffet whose twin was in the Abbey Aldrich Rockefeller apartment in Manhattan – to name just a few.