The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Vanderbilt Mansion 3

with 2 comments

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Hall of Fishes, nestled squamously against a steep hill, displays certain motifs and thematic elements that are mockeries of Roman proportion and restraint. The individual who commissioned this structure was a railroad tycoon and adventurer whom men called William K. Vanderbilt II (or Jr. depending on time period).

William K. Vanderbilt II (WKV2 from this point on) commanded a fleet of what he called “steam yachts” but were actually maritime research vessels that also happened to carry the amenities and luxuries that a scion of the Vanderbilt clan had come to expect.

Death of the Alva- from

“The Alva, named for William K. Vanderbilt I’s wife, was designed by St. Clare J. Byrne as a three-masted bark-rigged screw steamer with a steel hull. The Harlan & Hollingsworth Company built the Alva at Wilmington, Delaware, and launched her October 15, 1886. The Alva had an overall length of 285′, and a length on the waterline of 252′. Her measurements were as follows, extreme beam 32.25′, depth 21.5′, and draft 17′. Her tonnage was 1,151.27 gross and 600.55 net.

“Late Saturday afternoon, the Alva departed Bar Harbor bound for Newport. Captain Henry Morrison, a sturdy Englishman, was in command of the Alva. The Alva’s crew totaled 52 men, including officers. Proceeding South, Sunday morning, the Alva encountered a dense fog off Monomoy Point. Immediately, the Alva’s crew sounded her steam whistle. The Alva anchored at precisely 6:30 am to wait for a clearing. Although he did not know it at that time, Captain Morrison had anchored the Alva in Pollock Rip Channel, about 4.1 miles East of Monomoy Point Lighthouse.

“At 8:20 am, a tremendous crash followed by the sound of flying timbers and deck fittings instantly brought everyone to the Alva’s deck with little more than the clothes on their backs. Captain Morrison went forward to examine the damage and found a mortal wound in the Alva’s port side. He gave the order to abandon ship. Eventually, everyone made it from the Alva to the Dimock, which had anchored about 500 yards from the Alva.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Gently raised, grandson of the richest man in America, WKV2 had a taste for dangerous fun. An enthusiast for the razor’s edge of technological advancement, his youth was spent racing about in that most modern of conveyances- the Automobile- or on the water. The apogee of the european colonial and mercantilist system witnessed a golden age of ship building in the late 19th and early 20th century, with ever larger and faster steel hulled ships challenging the seas. Steam driven, these ships carried cargo to and from the great ports, and the Vanderbilt family had dominated the shipping industry in the Americas since the time of the Commodore.

Here’s part one of “Over the Seven Seas with Mr. and Mrs. Vanderbilt” via

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Baroque and florid, this is the capitol that sits over the main entrance to the structure. By the time of WKV2, the great fortune of the Commodore had been divided many times over, and the Vanderbilt family had become part of the “establishment”. Extravagant whimsy expressed in architecture became one of their trademarks, and the landscape of the United States is dotted with their palaces. None, though, are quite like WKV2’s “Eagle’s Nest”.

Here’s part two of “Over the Seven Seas with Mr. and Mrs. Vanderbilt” via

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Samuel Yellin iron work, in some detail, which writhes about the Hall of Fishes.


The Harlan Hollingsworth Company has just finished for Mr. William K. Vanderbilt the steel yacht Alva, the finest pleasure ship afloat, at a cost of $650,000, and she will be launched at Wilmington next Saturday if conditions and circumstances are propitious.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A tenebrous attraction layers the wrought metal, some terrible magnetism evocative of the cubists- or the degenerate graffiti one finds scrawled on the steel of those bridges which span an assassin of joy called the Newtown Creek.

It’s organic shape and lack of convention suggests a radical soul, rebelling against social class and high society which has both nurtured and confined its powerful intellect. When researching WKV2, again and again one word kept popping into the search engine narrative – Illuminati.


During the 1920’s, Mr. Vanderbilt set out on a series of scientific expeditions around the world. He collected thousands of sea specimens and brought them back for display in his marine museum. There are 4,000 specimens on display, from the manatee, a 10-foot-long aquatic mammal from the tropics currently on the endangered species list, to the blue, yellow and striped unicorn surgeon fish from the waters of New Caledonia. They represent collecting efforts made over many years and many oceans.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

WKV2, like the entire Vanderbilt clan, are meant to be part of some overarching global conspiracy which stretches out from the ivory towers in which they hide. The story goes that there are 11 families in the United States, oligarchs all, who secretly control and manipulate both the government and economy to guarantee their favor. Getty’s, Rockefeller’s, Dodge’s, Vanderbilts etc. these families- or houses- vie with each other for secret control over mankind and are all working toward some elusive and secret agenda. Just like the same stories about the Freemasons, your humble narrator puts little stock in such tales.



William  K.  Vanderbilt’s  “Ara”  collected  a  new  shark  species:  band-tailed  cat  shark (Pristurus arae). They took 5 tortoises from Duncan Island for the New York Zoo.  In 1931 he returns in the “Alva”.

November. The “Svaap” with William Albert Robinson and Bill Wright. They found one person on Floreana, the Norwegian fisherman, Urholt.

There were 136 inhabitants on Isabela Island. The total in Galapagos: 507. Tuna boats from San Diego, California began to arrive.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Walker’s, a clan of Texas slave owners who contributed the W. to George W. Bush, are meant to be a part of these illuminati, as are the Bush’s themselves. Just as I answer the controversy about 9/11, when the inevitable “Bush did it” line comes up- What exactly, on the resume of these people, suggests to you that they had the acumen to pull a job of such scale, based on their performance in other areas? The Vanderbilts, in their first three or four generations, were capable of enormous things- but do you really believe that CNN’s Anderson Cooper (son of Gloria Vanderbilt) is one of the secret rulers of the world?


…Off the equatorial west coast of South America lie the Galapagos Islands, longtime home of quaint fowl and ancient reptiles, onetime base of buccaneer expeditions. Now Ecuador owns and the U. S. explores them. Most recent pryers about the islands have been William K. Vanderbilt II and his wife, trapping sapphire-eyed cormorants, penguins pompous as bartenders, Galapagos tortoises with leathery shells, fish whose pied throats pulsate languidly. Such catch Mr. Vanderbilt carried on his yacht Ara to Miami, Fla., where on an off-shore island he maintains his private aquarium and tropical bird reservation and where, insouciantly clad in bathing suit, slippers and tennis hat he directed the unloading of his craft.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

WKV2 spent years at sea, visiting Pacific Atolls and European Courts. Rumors suggest that he was, covertly, conducting back room diplomatic work for the United States government- but I haven’t been able to find anything conclusive to prove this.

Travel broadens one’s mind, or so the saying goes, but perhaps there are things that are better left forgotten. Dark ancestral things whose secrets are handed down from father to son in sweaty jungle lodges which smell of blood and smoke, or in tapestry clad castle towers. Everywhere he went, his men dredged the waters… searching…


After spending years hanging in a rotting and decrepit state, a 32-foot whale shark, believed to the largest real mounted fish in the world, has been restored and is ready for viewers of the Vanderbilt Museum’s Habitat collection.

Caught in 1935 off Fire Island by Arie and Nicholas Schaper, the 16,000-pound shark was the northernmost catch on record at the time. William K. Vanderbilt II bought it from the Schaper brothers and housed it in his Habitat room at his Eagle’s Nest mansion amid his collection of specimens gathered on his many worldly jaunts.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Across the world’s oceans, the American Playboy and his bride drove their crew to exertion and discovery, creating a thorough and scientific recording of the life form’s collected. One can only guess what Vanderbilt decided the world had no need for knowledge of, and omitted from his logs. Or, perhaps he kept another set of books, a practice he’d have been familiar with from his years as a New York business man.

from wikipedia

Some of Cornelius Vanderbilt’s offspring gained fame as successful entrepreneurs while several achieved prominence in other fields such as Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt (1877-1915), who went down on the RMS Lusitania. His son Alfred Jr. became a noted horse breeder and racing elder. Harold Stirling Vanderbilt (1884-1970) gained fame as a sportsman, winning the most coveted prize in yacht racing, the America’s Cup, on three occasions. His brother “Willie K” launched the Vanderbilt Cup for auto racing. Cornelius Vanderbilt IV (1898-1974) became an accomplished writer, newspaper publisher, and film producer. However, others made headlines as a result of drug and alcohol abuse and multiple marriages.

More tomorrow…

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 13, 2010 at 10:23 am

2 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. […] a comment » check out the prior Vanderbilt Mansion posts: 1, 2, 3, and […]

  2. […] ERRATA Vanderbilt Mansion 3 […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: