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Murry & Leonie Guggenheim Cottage A Beaux-Arts Summer Residence

Murry and Leonie Guggenheim

Murry Guggenheim (1858-1939) was the third  son of Meyer Guggenheim, a Swiss-born Jewish immigrant who came to America in 1848, and his wife, Barbara Meyers Guggenheim. Meyer and Barbara Guggenheim had ten surviving children, seven sons and three daughters.

Murry Guggenheim was sent to Switzerland as a young man to study embroidery and lace manufacture. He then joined the family lace and embroidery import business. In 1881 Meyer Guggenheim became involved in mining and smelting. The family moved to New York City where Murry handled and sold  metals for M. Guggenheim’s Sons. Eventually Murry became chairman of the finance committee of American Smelting and Refining, a director of Kennecott Copper and, after the death of his brother Daniel,  presided over the Guggenheim nitrate monopoly in Chile. Following a long tradition, he donated part of his wealth to worthy causes. Murry took a very personal interest in his main philanthropy: the Murry and Leonie Guggenheim Dental Clinic for New York City schoolchildren. He also donated the central display greenhouse to the New York Botanical Gardens.

In 1887 Murry Guggenheim married Leonie Bernheim, member of a prominent Alsatian Jewish family, whom he had met on a business trip to Switzerland. By all accounts theirs was a very happy marriage. They had two children, a son, Edmond and a daughter, Lucille.

The Guggenheim Mansion

Like his brothers, Murry decided to build a summer home in the Elberon, New Jersey area. He bought a site in what is now West Long Branch in 1903 and engaged the New York firm of M. Carrere and Thomas Hastings to design his summer cottage.The architects were awarded the gold medal of the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects for 1903 for the design of the building. Thomas Hastings and John Melvin Carrere had also designed the New York Public Library at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. They were among the foremost American exponents of the Beaux Arts style in architecture.

The building, completed in 1905, was intended exclusively for summer use. It is built in the dignified neoclassical idiom typical of the Ecole des Beaux Arts but the general effect is lightened by a white stucco exterior, wide arcades curving out from the east and west sides of the buildings, and a predominantly white interior. The ceilings on the first floor are lofty and numerous floor-to-ceiling doors and windows allow summer breezes to cool the rooms. The billiard room and the living room are paneled in chestnut and walnut respectively. A marble floored central corridor provides access to all the rooms on the first floor. Photographs of the cottage interior in its days as a residence show that it was decorated with restrained good taste rather than extravagance. 

Guggenheim Cottage Donated to Monmouth College

Murry Guggenheim died on November 15, 1939, but Leonie continued to spend summers at West Long Branch. After her death in 1959 the estate became the property of the Murry and Leonie Guggenheim Foundation. The Foundation first offered the estate to the Monmouth Medical Center. The offer aroused a great deal of opposition from local residents who stated that they would prefer the estate to be donated to Monmouth College. The Guggenheim Foundation officially conveyed the estate to Monmouth College on September 9, 1960. After some modifications designed to convert the summer cottage into a college library,  the Murry and Leonie Guggenheim Memorial Library was dedicated on September 24, 1961.

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