Helen Whitney (Helen Hay Whitney)

Helen Whitney

Helen Whitney was the daughter of Clara Louise Stone, and her husband, John Milton Hay, who served as the United States Ambassador to Great Britain and United States Secretary of State. Helen Hay was a poet and an author of books for children. A number of her poems were published in Harper’s Magazine. One of her poems, Love of the Rose, was used in Leon Ardin’s opera, Antony and Cleopatra (Act 2, no. 15). Herbs And Apples (1910) is a collection of poems that she published using what she had given for The Metropolitan Magazine and Collier’s Weekly. “Songs and Sonnets,” “Gypsy Verses” are also some of her works produced in such a manner. Several of her works have been republished in the 21st century. In 1902 she married Payne Whitney with whom she had a daughter, Joan, and a son, John. The couple built a home at 972 Fifth Avenue in New York City designed by Stanford White. Helen Hay Whitney lived there until her death in 1944. The government of France acquired the property in 1952 and is part of the French Embassy in the United States. The Whitneys also owned a 438-acre (1.77 km2) estate in Manhasset, New York they called Greentree and Greentree Stable. After her husband’s death in 1927, she managed Greentree Stable and it continued to be a major force in Thoroughbred flat and steeplechase horse racing. Her horses won the American Grand National steeplechase in 1926, 1927, 1928, and 1937. In flat racing, her horses won the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes in 1931 and 1942. The beneficiary of a large fortune on the death of her husband, Helen Whitney provided substantial funding to various causes and institutions including the Payne Whitney Gymnasium at Yale University. In 1943, an ailing Helen Whitney and her daughter Joan created the Helen Hay Whitney Foundation which supports early postdoctoral research training in all basic biomedical sciences. Helen Whitney died in 1944 and as part of her bequests left the Metropolitan Museum of Art twenty-four objects consisting of paintings, ceramics, textiles, and furniture.

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  • March, 11, 1875
  • USA
  • New York, New York


  • September, 24, 1944
  • USA
  • New York, New York


  • Christ Church Cemetery
  • Manhasset, New York
  • USA

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