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George D. Pratt


George D. Pratt
George D. Pratt (Photo © Pratt Libraries)
Pratt Institute Libraries, Archives PGD-02 (ar00273)

George D. Pratt (1869 - 1935) was the son of Charles Pratt. Charles Pratt was a pioneer of using petroleum as a replacement for whale oil for lighting. He started the Astral Oil Works to refine kerosene which later became known as Charles Pratt and Company. Charles Pratt had frequent conflicts with John D. Rockefeller's South Improvement Company which later became the Standard Oil Company and bought competing businesses including the Charles Pratt Company in 1874. Charles Pratt became a member of the Standard Oil Trust.

George D. Pratt was born in Brooklyn New York in 1869. He went to Amherst College in Western Massachusetts where he was a member of the track team when it won an NEIAA championship in 1890 and he personally set an NEIAA record in a bicycle race in 1892. He was also the captain and quarterback of the Amherst College football team. He graduated in 1893. He later became a trustee of Amherst College.

George Pratt worked for the Long Island Rail Road, but it was for his charitable work that he was best known. He was treasurer and helped create the Boy Scouts of America. He was New York Conservation Commissioner for six years and was a trustee of the American Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, both in New York. He was also helped run the Pratt Institute and the American Forestry Association.

He married Helen Deming Sherman in 1897, great granddaughter of Roger Sherman from Connecticut, the only founding father to sign all four great documents (the Continental Association, the Declaration of Independence, the articles of Confederation, and the Constitution). He later married Vera Derbishire Amherst Hale in 1926. George lived in Glen Cove New York at a Tudor-style mansion called Killenworth built in 1913. This home was purchased by the Soviet Union in the 1950s and served as the home for the Russian Delegation to the United Nations.

George Pratt died in 1935.

In 1932, George Pratt purchased New England Winter from an exhibition at the Deerfield Academy. It is known that the painting hung at Killenworth estate until his wife Vera sold the mansion after his death. So far the current status of the painting is unknown.


Decenber 2011