1909-1918 – Ames Mitchell, Author of Young Rajah

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On April 13, 1909 The Times reported that Ames Mitchell had bought a “four-story dwelling at 41st East, 67th Street, New York City.” It was a time when the old brownstones had fallen out of fashion. Architects Denby & Nute instead stripped off the old façade and transformed the house to a five-story neo-Classical beauty. Mitchell had been educated as an architect at Harvard and later at the Ecole National Superieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. But he was a man of many more talents. In 1883 he co-founded the humor magazine Life, the position for which he would be best remembered. He was also an artist, illustrator and author. Mitchell and his highly-popular magazine would introduce America to several new writers and artists—among them Charles Dana Gibson (famous for his Gibson Girls). He found the time to write over a dozen novels, one of which, “Amos Judd,” became the 1922 silent film The Young Rajah starring matinee idol Rudolph Valentino. The publisher-novelist-architect also spent time at the easel and several of his etchings were given honorable mention in the Paris Salon. He and his wife spent the summers in their country home in Ridgefield, Connecticut. Mitchell established the Life Fresh Air Camp in Branchville, which brought city kids to the country for many years. It was located where Branchville School is now. It was there, on June 29, 1918 he died. The New-York Tribune reported that “He suffered a stroke of apoplexy early in the day and his death followed a few hours later.” Mitchell was especially generous to his household staff in his will. His chauffeur received the same amount as did his own sister–$5,000 (about $50,000 today)—and the “servants in his employ all receive legacies of $500,” reported The Sun.

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