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William Rutherford Mead (AC 1867) and Olga Kilyeni Mead Papers

Identifier: MA.00042

Scope and Contents

The collection includes personal, professional, and family correspondence, financial records, articles and printed matter, photographs, music scores and general memorabilia documenting the personal and professional lives of William Rutherford Mead as an architect with McKim, Mead and White, and of his wife Olga Kilyeni Mead. The collection includes: papers related to Mead's architectural designs for "Redtop," the house in Belmont, Massachusetts, that Mead designed for his sister Elinor Mead Howells and her husband William Dean Howells, 1876-1878; papers relating to the Meads' relationship with Amherst College, including information about their bequest for the construction of the Mead Art Museum. Photographs include portraits of the Meads, family photographs, photographs of William and Elinor Mead Howells, and various travel images and unidentified family photographs. Also included in the collection are several dozen music scores, chiefly 19th century, by Hungarian, German and French composers.


  • Creation: 1840 - 2001
  • Creation: 1846 - 1950


Conditions Governing Access

There is no restriction on access to the Papers for research use. Particularly fragile items are restricted for preservation purposes. This collection is housed in off-site storage and requires advance notice before use. Please contact Archives and Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

Requests for permission to publish material from the Papers should be directed to the Archives and Special Collections. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Biographical / Historical

William Rutherford Mead was born in Brattleboro, Vermont in 1846. Mead graduated from Amherst College in 1867, after which he studied architecture in Boston and in Europe under Russell Sturgis, Jr.

Mead started an architectural partnership with Charles F. McKim in New York City in 1872. In 1879, they were joined by Stanford White to form McKim, Mead, and White, of which he was principal until his death in 1928. The firm designed many of the most notable structures in the country, including the Agricultural and New York State buildings at the World's Columbian Exposition at Chicago in 1893, the Boston Public Library, Rhode Island State Capitol, the old Madison Square Garden (since demolished), and the Columbia University library.

In 1883, Mead wed Olga Kilyeni in Budapest, Hungary. In 1902, King Victor Emmanuel conferred upon Mead the decoration of Knight Commander of the Crown of Italy in recognition of his pioneer work in introducing the Roman and Italian Renaissance architectural style in America. Also in 1902, Amherst College conferred upon Mead the honorary degree of LL.D. In 1909, he recieved a degree of M.S. from Norwich University in Vermont.

The Meads lived abroad in Rome, where Mr. Mead was the President of the American Academy in Rome until his death in 1928. When Olga Mead died in 1936 in New York City, her entire estate was bequeathed to Amherst College. Much of that bequest was used to fund construction of the Mead Art Building, designed by James Kellum Smith of McKim, Mead and White and completed in 1949.


3.1 Linear feet (2 archives boxes, 2 flat archives boxes, 1 records storage box, 1 wrapped volume)

Language of Materials



Mead was an architect. Includes personal, professional, and family correspondence, financial records, articles and printed matter, photographs, music scores and general memorabilia. Includes information about the Meads' relationship with Amherst College, including their bequest for the construction of the Mead Art Museum.


This collection is organized into four series:

  1. Series 1: William Rutherford Mead, 1840-2001
  2. Series 2: Olga Kilyeni Mead, 1895-1936
  3. Series 3: Photographs, circa 1860-1920
  4. Series 4: Sheet Music, circa 19th century

Related Materials

  1. Alumni Biographical Files - Class of 1867 - Mead, William Rutherford
  2. Dwight W. Morrow Papers
Elaine Trehub, Claudia Gunter, Peter Nelson.
Language of description
Script of description
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Repository Details

Part of the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections Repository

Amherst College Archives & Special Collections
Robert Frost Library
61 Quadrangle Drive
Amherst MA 01002-5000
(413) 542-2299