On St Patrick’s Day 1899, while people were gathered below to watch the parade, a fire destroyed the Windsor Hotel located in the Midtown area of Manhattan in New York City. The Pope family was one of the many families affected by this tragedy.
The photo on the right shows Claude Money’s Fishing Boats at Sea (1868) being rescued from the Popes’ rooms.
The Popes maintained a residence at the hotel, where they spent a considerable amount of time, as they frequently traveled to New York from Cleveland where they were living at the time, since Hill-Stead was not yet completed. Mrs. Pope was an opera fan and part of the reason for the March 1899 trip was so that she could attend various performances.
Mr. Pope acquired many of the Impressionist pieces in his collection through art dealers in New York City, such as Durand-Ruel. For this reason, on the day of the fire, three paintings Mr. Pope had considered selling back to Durand-Ruel, but his wife had convinced him to keep were at the hotel. As soon as he heard of the fire, Mr. Pope, who was out for lunch with friend and fellow art collector Harris Whittemore, rushed back to the hotel. As soon as police allowed him through, he paid hotel workers to go save the paintings from his room.
If you want to learn more about the Pope’s experience in the fire, Click to read the letter that Mrs. Pope wrote to her sister two days after the fire.