Andrew Freedman – The Man


“….Mr. Freedman saw and meant to meet with his beneficence the need of a neglected, and too often overlooked class of persons whose prosperous past, whether due to inheritance, good fortune, or individual effort, made it emotionally difficult for them to face dire reduced circumstances brought by ‘the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’ to the caustic comments that this Home stood withdrawn within the sacred enclosure of its well-appointed grounds as a symbol of ostentation and callous indifference to the multitudes of allegedly low-born needy.” – Mr. Charles Henry Wenhold (1949)

Andrew Freedman was born in Brooklyn on September 1, 1860—the year that Abraham Lincoln was elected president of the United States.

11 Years Old
He grew to manhood during the “Age of the Bosses”. He was eleven years old when the New York Times began an exposé of Tammany Hall’s corruption that led to the imprisonment of Boss Tweed in 1871, but by 1890, virtually every sizable city had a political boss or was in the process of developing one.

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Samuel Untermeyer, Attorney-At-Law
President of the Board of Trustees for the Andrew Freedman Home
Samuel Untermeyer purchased the land, supervised the planning of the building, and set the standards for the members and the employees.

On September 1, 1932, at the celebration of the First Founders’ Day on, what would have been, Andrew Freedman’s 72nd birthday, Samuel Untermeyer said in his message:

“While I have been, at times, criticized for having spent too much money in the construction and furnishing of the building for the Home, and because there is but little of the institutional about it, knowing as I do the purpose Mr. Freedman had in mind, I believe that we have carried out his intentions as nearly as possible. My hope is that those who come after us will always bear in mind that this institution was intended to be unique, and to have the characteristics of a genuine home, affording to those who live in it the comfort, companionship and refined surroundings that they had enjoyed in their earlier years.”

Andrew Freedman- Responsible for the first New York subway line.
At the dedication ceremonies for the Andrew Freedman Home, Samuel Untermeyer, president of the Board of Trustees, told his listeners that it was more due to the courage, enterprise, and vision of Andrew Freedman than to anyone else’s initiative that the first subway was built in New York. Andrew Freedman invested the first $1,000,000 that went into the construction of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT) subway. A quote from Russel Sage, one of the trustees for the estate of Jay Gould and a large stockholder in the Manhattan Railway Company operating the successful group of elevated lines in Manhattan, as told by reporters:
“The proposed subway is the most foolish thing that ever was heard of. New York people will never go into a hole in the ground to ride.”

The rewards from this enterprise laid the foundation of Mr. Freedman’s modest fortune. “His was a case in which worldly success was accompanied with public service of the highest order.” – Samuel Untermeyer

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Andrew Freedman – Owner of the New York Giants
In 1895, Freedman purchased controlling interest in the New York Giants baseball club from the National League and became principal owner. In 1902, he also became principal owner of the Baltimore Orioles baseball club of the American League. Since Freedman released several of their best players from contracts, American League president Ban Johnson and other minority shareholders took control of the Orioles. After the 1902 season, Freedman sold the Giants to the principal owner of the Cincinnati Reds, John T. Brush, who previously backed him financially to purchase the Orioles.

The Birth of the Vision for The Andrew Freedman Home
Freedman’s sister, Isabella, told reporters that in the Freedman family there had always existed a love of parents. Their parents had at one time lived in the greatest of comfort, if not in luxury. As time went on, through bad investments and other means, they lost their worldly possessions until they were reduced to absolute poverty. When her brother grew to manhood, he saw the sufferings of his parents and pitied them. He understood that poverty came to them harder than to people who had never known a higher standard of living. He made a vow that if ever he became rich, he would do all in his power to aid such unfortunate people.

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Original Trustees of The Andrew Freedman Home
Of the twenty-four distinguished trustees named to the original Board of Trustees by Mr. Freedman, fourteen were written up in the Who’s Who for 1911. Four of these trustees died before the Home opened. Among them:

  • Daniel Freedman, Andrew Freedman’s brother.
  • Isabella Freedman, Andrew Freedman’s sister.
  • Jacob Schiff, senior partner of prominent banking house of Kuhn, Loeb & Co.
  • Mr. Schiff’s granddaughter, Dorothy, was the owner and publisher of the New York Post.
  • Nathan Straus, co-owner of R.H. Macy & Company and Abraham & Straus.  Straus was an unusually kind man identified with many public charities.
  • Timothy D. Sullivan, a New York Senator for several terms and was congressman from the Eight District in the fifty-eight and fifty-ninth Congress.
  • August Belmont, owner of the Belmont Hotel on 42nd Street; Judge Gildersleeve; Harry Hoffman and others.

“The great use of a life is to spend it for something that outlasts it.” – William James

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Death of Andrew Freedman
Andrew Freedman died on December 4, 1915 in New York City. The press felt, and many distinguished persons besides Andrew Freedman’s friends also felt, that Andrew Freedman’s passing was the end of an era. The world was rapidly changing, the life style of the country with it, and New York City, the great sprawling cosmopolis, was changing most rapidly of all. When the United States entered World War I, life in this country and in New York, as Andrew Freedman knew it, was never to be the same again.

Pat Edith Aynes.  The Andrew Freedman Story.  Presented to the Board of Directors, members in the Home and employees on the occasion of the 52nd Anniversary of the dedication of the Home, May 1976.