Aug 17 2016

Frederick Gilbert Bourne- President of Singer Sewing Machine & a Long Island Motor Parkway Director

Oakdale resident and historian Philip Selvaggio has identified Frederick Gilbert Bourne in several of the photos from the June 6, 1908 ground-breaking ceremony for the Long Island Motor Parkway.


Howard Kroplick

Edward Gilbert Bourne

Frederick Gilbert Bourne (1851-1919) was an American businessman who would become one of the wealthiest men in the world.

In 1889, 32-year old Bourne became the fourth president of the Singer Manufacturing Company. Over 16 years of Bourne's leadership, Singer grew and prospered becoming the world-wide leading manufacturer of sewing machines. In 1905, Bourne retired to pursue his passions: large homes, yachting and automobiles.

In 1897, Bourne built this massive 110-room summer residence Indian Neck Hall on the east side of Oakdale on Long Island.

From 1926 to 2001, Indian Neck Hall was the home of the LaSalle Military Academy. In 2001 it was purchased by St. John's University. The exterior of the building remains virtually unchanged since it was Bourne's home.

Bourne was an early adopter of automobiles and owned a variety of expensive European cars including this $10,000 Mercedes.

1906 Long Island Motor Parkway Prospectus

Bourne was a friend of the Vanderbilt family- Willie K's father was a nearby Oakdale neighbor. Accordingly, it was not a surprise that Bourne was an early investor in the Long Island Motor Parkway.

As described in the 1906 Motor Parkway Prospectus, Bourne was on the list of the first 26 "directors and incorporators."

Ground-Breaking Ceremony for the Long Island Motor Parkway, June 6, 1908, Central Park (Bethpage)- Courtesy of Garden City Archives

Bourne was given a prime seat for the ground-breaking ceremony- right on the speakers stage

Bourne, wearing a cap, can be seen on the far right of the stage. Borne was listening to Judge William H. Hotchkiss, president of the A.A.A. Sitting to his right is A.R. Pardington, general manager of the Motor Parkway, and Russell A. Field, secretary of the Long Island Automobile Club.

Bourne was listening intently to A.R. Pardington deliver a speech orignally written for William K. Vanderbilt, Jr.

After his speech, A.R. Pardington dug into the sandy Long Island soil with a golden shovel under the watchful eye of Bourne and other Motor Parkway supporters.

Following the earth turning, Bourne was in a great position, standing on the railing, to witness the clearing of tree stumps with dynamite.


Aug 18 2016 Greg O. 5:17 PM

Great memories for me on this one. As a kid it he early 70’s, LaSalle had a day camp in the summer. I was lucky enough to go and even as a little kid loved the old mansion.

Aug 20 2016 S. Berliner, III 11:42 PM

Ugly aside - La Salle had the iniquity of refusing admittance to Jewish students and other minorities (not that they ever admitted it, of course).  Sam, III

Aug 21 2016 Philip Selvaggio 10:15 AM

Thank you Howard for your help. Sharing history is the best part of discovering it!

Apr 16 2017 Jeffrey H. Sado 2:15 AM

What a day! and how lucky to find these photos!  Thx for sharing, Jeffrey H. Sado NYC / Bourne relative

Jun 14 2017 Evan Ginzburg 8:19 AM

Legendary Long Island philanthropist chronicled in newly released book, Frederick Gilbert Bourne- Forgotten Titan of the Gilded Age
Author Philip Selvaggio available for lectures, interviews and appearances on Frederick Gilbert Bourne and the Gilded Age.
Oakdale, NY, June 8, 2017 - Frederick Gilbert Bourne proved that a great businessman could also be a wonderful human being.

In fewer than twenty years Frederick Bourne ascended from near poverty to being one of the wealthiest men in America. He has a direct historic connection with the Titanic disaster, the tragic death of John Lennon and the destruction of the World Trade Center Towers. He owned the finest estate on the Gold Coast of Long Island and built the tallest building in the world in Manhattan. His intellect, deep moral convictions, personal charm and business savvy brought him to the Presidency of the first multinational, multi-million dollar companies in America; the Singer Sewing Machine Company whose product planted a seed for the liberation of women throughout the world. The success of this deeply loved father of twelve did not come about without personal tragedy. For the first time, the amazing story of this generous philanthropist, his adventures and eclectic interests-largely lost to time are brought to life in riveting detail by Author Philip Selvaggio.

The book can be purchased on Createspace and is also available on Amazon.

And now author/historian Philip Selvaggio, who devoted three and a half passionate years to researching this tale, is available to historical societies, libraries, book stores, area tourist attractions, and anyone interested in Bourne, the Gilded Age, or related subjects.

“Frederick Gilbert Bourne- Forgotten Titan of The Gilded Age” is not only riveting but inspiring. And Selvaggio does a masterful job in telling this great tale.”
– Evan Ginzburg- Associate Producer, The Wrestler

Harken back to a time when great men did great things for others and let Philip Selvaggio’s critically acclaimed book and live lectures bring you back to those glorious times.

Contact Info:

Author Philip Selvaggio

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