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him at number 26 on a list of the “40 wealthi-
est Americans of all time.”
In 1905, he purchased the estate of John
Jacob Astor in Esopus, N.Y., and supervised
the construction of a mansion designed by the
frm Carrère and Hastings. He became a philan-
thropist, donating to many educational and
medical causes. Cured of a serious illness by
physician Alfred Loomis, Payne became inter-
ested in assisting the medical profession. In
1887 he endowed the Loomis Laboratory in
New York City for teaching and research in
chemistry, biology, and pathology. In 1889 he
donated $500,000 to found Cornell Medical
School, and his subsequent donations to the
school totaled more than $8 million. He gave
New York University $150,000 for its medi-
cal school and $100,000 each to New York
City’s Post-Graduate Hospital, the University
of Virginia, and Western Reserve University to
establish laboratories of experimental medicine.
He also donated $1 million to Lakeside Hospital
in Cleveland, $200,000 to St. Vincent’s Charity
Hospital in Cleveland, and $200,000 to the
Cleveland Jewish Orphan Asylum.
In his will he left $500,000 to Phillips
Academy in Andover, $200,000 to Hamilton
College, $200,000 to the University of Virginia,
and $1 million to Yale University. He also left $1
million to the New York Public Library.
Payne was also considered one of the best
yachtsmen in America. He spent most of his
later summers aboard his yacht, the
Aphrodite
,
which he had built by Bath Iron Works of
Maine. Delivered in 1898, it was the longest
steam-powered yacht in the world at 330 feet.
He traveled to Europe and the Mediterranean
every year from 1898 until 1914, after which
he confned his sailing to United States waters.
Payne died in 1917, leaving the Esopus
property to his nephew Harry Payne Bingham.
In 1933, Bingham donated the Esopus estate
to the Episcopal Diocese of New York. From
1937 to 1966, the site served as the Wiltwyck
School for Boys, a noted home for troubled
children in which First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt
took great interest.
In 1942, the Wiltwyck School became
nonsectarian and the property was divided,
with a portion sold to the Marist Brothers,
the founders of Marist College. Until 1986,
the brothers’ part of the estate, including the
Payne Mansion, was used as a school and
retreat house. Raymond A. Rich purchased
the mansion, boathouse, and 60 acres from
the brothers in 1986 and restored the estate
and its boathouse to their former glory.
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