History of Audubon Terrace
Audubon Terrace Historic District
About this Tour Stop...
You are now standing within Audubon Terrace. It is a complex of eight Beaux Arts buildings from the early 20th century whose architects include some of the major stars of the period: Charles Pratt Huntington, Stanford White, and Cass Gilbert. Audubon Terrace was originally part of a farm belonging to painter and naturalist John James Audubon, who is best known for his paintings and descriptions of birds. Railroad heir and philanthropist Archer M. Huntington commissioned the complex in 1907 as one of the first planned cultural centers in America. Archer Milton Huntington was the stepson of industrialist Collis Potter Huntington, who cofounded the first U.S. transcontinental railroad after making his fortune in Sacramento during the California Gold Rush. Collis adopted Archer when he married Archerâ€™s mother. The two had been involved in an extra-marital affair for fifteen years before their marriage and it is unknown whether or not Collis was the biological father of Archer, though Archer himself maintained that Collis was. Archer led a privileged life, but was rejected from Columbia University and never received higher education. He instead followed his own path and traveled to Spain and various Arabic Countries. He was intrigued by the epic poem El Cid, but was dissatisfied with the then-current translation, and thus learned Arabic so that he could produce a translation of his own. The translation is today regarded as the top translation, and because of his work he was granted honorary degrees by many top universities later in life. He was married twice; his second marriage was to a sculptor, Anna Hyatt Huntington, whose work adorns Audubon Terrace. The couple married late in life and had no children. Archer Milton Huntington was a scholar of Hispanic Studies, and is known for founding The Hispanic Society of America, which is located within Audubon terrace. He also donated land and money to create other museums and parks throughout the United States. Audubon terrace began as just the headquarters for The Hispanic Society, and grew into a complex that held many other organizations. The original residents of Audubon Terrace included the American Geographical Society, the American Numismatic Society, the Museum of the American Indian-Heye Foundation, the Hispanic Society of America, the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Church of Our Lady of Esperanza. Only the Hispanic Society, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Church of Our Lady Esperanza remain today.
The Cultural Complex at Audubon Terrace