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HOMES FOR THE AGED.
Wilson Corcoran left to the city of Washington two conspicuous monuments of his public spirit and benevolence. How numerous and diverse were his private benefactions may be learned in part from the historical sketches of the various institutions in this book. It is quite within bounds to say that among all the philanthropic citizens of the District of Columbia Mr. Corcoran stands foremost, not alone in the amount of his gifts, but also in the direct personal interest he took in the application of benevolence.
| William Wilson Corcoran was the son of Thomas Corcoran, who was born in Limerick, Ireland, in 1751, and who came to Baltimore in 1783, to enter into the service of his uncle, William Wilson, a shipping merchant. In 1788, Thomas Corcoran married llanna Lemmon, of Baltimore, and the same year he settled in Georgetown, then a thriving port with ten square-rigged vessels lying at her docks, at the time of Mr. Corcoran's first visit. Entering the shoe and leather business, he also acted for his uncle in purchasing tobacco and flaxseed for export, Georgetown, Bladensburg, and Baltimore being at that time the three rival tobacco markets of Maryland. In 1791, on behalf of the corporation at Georgetown, he presented an address to President Washington, who had come to Bladensburg to negotiate with Robert Peter, Samuel Davidson, David Burns, Notley Young, and Daniel Carroll for the lands comprised in the District of Columbia. In 1801, President Jeffersou appointed him a magistrate and a member of the levy court, positions he held under successive Presi. dents until his death in 1830. In 1815 he was appointed by President Madison postmaster of Georgetown, and held office till his death, being succeeded by his so James, who also held the position during his life.
William Wilson Corcoran, the fifth son of Thomas Corcoran by his second marriage, was born December 27, 1798, and received instruction from Rev. William Allen, a Presbyterian clergyman; at the Georgetown College, of which institution the Rev. Father Gracie was then the president; and from Rev. Addison Belt, a graduate of Princeton. In 1815 he entered the dry goods store of his brothers, James and Thomas, and two years later they started him in business for himself. During the panic of 1823 he went down with about one-third of the merchants of Georgetown; but in 1817 he paid his creditors in full with interest, although he had secured a release after the failure.
Instead of reeinbarking in business Mr. Corcoran devoted himself to the interests of his father, the management of whose property he superintended. In 1828 le took charge of the real estate and suspended debt of the Bank of the United States and the Bank of Columbia. In 1830 his father closed his long career of usefulness. He had been a member of the Georgetown council and mayor of the town; he was The Louise Home is beautifully situated on a high terrace fronting on the south side of Massachusetts avenue, between Fifteenth and Sixteenth streets NW. The grounds embrace about 53,000 square feet, and are laid out in walks shaded by trees and shrubbery of native and foreign growth. The building itself, French in its style of architecture, is one of the most beautiful ornaments to a section of the city where neither wealth nor taste have been spared in adornment.
Being desirous of founding a memorial and fitting tribute to the memory of his wife and daughter, the latter of whom, an only child, bad then but recently died, Mr. Corcoran conceived the plan of estab. lishing a home for women of education and refinement whom age and misfortune had rendered dependent, and to wliose needs those bound by family ties were unable to minister. In his letter of December 4, 1870, Mr. Corcoran, addressing Messrs. James M. Carlisle, George W. Riggs, James C. Hall, and Anthony Hyde, delivers to them, his selected trustees, à conveyance for the establishment of the institution. This
also one of the founders of St. John's and Christ churches, and of Columbian Uni. versity. Mr. W. W. Corcoran was active in the District militia-having been promoted through the varions grades to a colonelcy-and in 1819 he declined the command of the militia of the District. On December 23, 1835, Mr. Corcoran mar. ried Louise Amory Morris, daughter of Commodore Charles Morris, the issue being two daughters and one son. The first daughter and the son died in infancy. The second daughter, Louise Morris, was born March 20, 1838, and died December 4, 1867. She married the Hon. George Eustis, jr., son of Hon. George Eustis, chief justice of the supreme court of Louisiana. In 1837 Mr. ('orcoran established a brokerage business on Pennsylvania avenue, near Fifteenth street, and during the the same year removed his family to Washington. In 1839 he removed his business to the old Bank of the Metropolis Building, on the corner of Fifteenth and F streets, and the next year associated with him Mr. George W. Riggs.
In 1815 the firm of Corcoran & Riggs purchased the old United States Bank at the corner of Fifteenth street and New York avenue, together with all its property and effects uncollected. About 1817 the firin took, on its own account, nearly all thio loans made liy the United States. In 1818 Mr. George W. Riggs retired from the firm and was snccceleıl by his younger brother Elisha. During this year the firm had on hand about twelve inillions of the 6 per cent Unitel States loan of 1818, and the demand for it falling off in this country Mr. Corcoran sailed for Europe to place the bonds. After much discouragement he succeeded in placing tive millions with Bariny Brothers & Co., George Peabody, ()verend, Gurney & Co., Denison & Co., Samuel Jones Lloyd, and James Morrison, this being the first sale of American securities made in Europe since 1837. The success of this operation in London gradually advanced the bonds to 1195, thus securing a very handsome profit for the firm. On April 1, 1854, Mr. Corcoran withdrew from the firm, and the business was continued by Mr. George W. Riggs, under the firm bame of Riggs & Co., which name was changed in 1896 for the Riges National Bank.
In 1859 Mr. Corcoran began the erection of a building at the northeast corner of Pennsylvania avenne and Seventeenth street, designed for a public art gallery. The breaking out of the civil war brought into requisition all such buildings in the city, anıl led to the occupation of this building for military purposes, to which use it was devoted until about the beginning of 1869, when it was restored to the possession of the owner. On May 10, 1869, Mr. Corcoran callel to his honse Messrs. J. M. Carlisle, George W. Riggs, Dr. James C. Hall, Anthony Hyde, James G. Berret, James C. Konuedy, Henry D. Cooke, James ('. Metiuire, of the District of Columbia, and W. T.
trust was formally accepted by the trustees in their letter of December 7, 1870.
The intentions of Mr. Corcoran are clearly set forth in this couveyance. He declares it his desire and intention to establish and maintain in the city of Washington, D. C., to the extent thereafter provided, and to such extent of endowment as he may from time to time, by gift, devise. bequest, or otherwise determine, an institution for the support and maintenance of a limited number of gentlewomen who have been reduced by misfortune, the propriety of their admission to be first determined by the trustees and a board of directresses provided for it a later clause of the deed, which board, having charge of and supervision over the internal management and government of the establislı. ment, consisted of the following ladies designated in the conveyance by the founder, viz: Mrs. Benjamin Ogle Tayloe, Mrs. George W. Riggs, Miss Sarah Coleman, Mrs. Richard H. Coolidge, Mrs. James M. Carlisle, Mrs. John Marbury, sr., Mrs. Beverly Kennon, Mrs. Richard T. Merrick, and Mrs. S. P. Hill, all of Washington City.
Walters, of Baltimore, in whom he vested the title to the property, together with the right to receive the rents wholly unpaid for the eight years during which the building was occupied by the Government, all for the purpose of establishing the Corcoran Art Gallery. To this gift he added his own gallery of art on which he hail spent many years of time and a large amount of money. The gallery was charter by the act of Congress approved May 24, 1870. The act of incorporation required] that the Secretary of War, Secretary of the Treasury, and the Secretary of State should ascertain and settle on principles of justice and fairness a just compensation for the use of the ground and buildings while the same were occupied by the United States, and made an appropriation to carry out their findings.
During the period immediately preceding the war Mr. Corcoran enjoyed the friendship of Edward Everett, Daniel Webster, Gen. Winfield Scott, and George Peabody, of London. To Dorothea Lynde Dix, whose work among the insane bas been mentioned elsewhere, Mr. Corcoran gave carte blanche to ask for relief for those she might find needing small pecuniary aid, a resource of which she availed herself from time to time. In 1863 Mr. Corcoran visited Europe where he was entertained by his friend, George Peabody, and it was during his stay in Paris that he gave to the Washington Orphan Asylum the lots on which their present building is erected. He also made many other gifts to charitable institutions in the South. To William and Mary College he gave, in 1867, $1,000, for rebuilding, and in 1878 he added $50,000 in bonds of the State of Virginia to endow a chair of natural history in that institution. In February, 1868, Mr. Corcoran returned from his second trip to Europe, bringing with hin the remains of his daughter, Mrs. Eustis, who had died at her home iu Cannes, and on December 4, 1870, he placed in the hands of the trustees the building and lands which he had devoted to an Asylum for Aged Women, in commemoration of his daughter and his wife.
In 1872 Mr. Corcoran returned from his third visit to Europe and was met in New York by a delegation of the citizens of Washington sent to welcome him bome. During this year Mr. Corcoran gave to the trustees of Columbian College, of which body he was president, the valuable tract of land called “ Trinidad," north of the city of Washington. From this time on until his death Mr. Corcoran's beneticences were widely scattered both at the North and at the South. Gifts were made not only to institutions, but also to individuals whom the exigencies of war bad reduced to poverty. Mr. Corcoran died in Washington February 24, 1858.