Cyrus H. K. Curtis

Cyrus Hermann Kotzschmar Curtis (June 18, 1850 – June 7, 1933) was an American publisher of magazines and newspapers, including the Ladies' Home Journal and The Saturday Evening Post.[2]

Cyrus H. K. Curtis
Cyrus Hermann Kotzschmar Curtis circa 1918
Curtis circa 1918
BornJune 18, 1850
DiedJune 7, 1933 (aged 82)
Spouse(s)Louisa Knapp
Kate Stanwood Cutter Pillsbury
ChildrenMary Louise Curtis Bok Zimbalist
Official nameCyrus H. K. Curtis (1850-1933)
DesignatedNovember 07, 2005[1]
Location1250 W Church Rd.(SR73), Wyncote


Born in Portland, Maine, Curtis was forced to leave high school after his first year to start working, as in 1866 his family lost their home in the Great Fire of Portland. He held a variety of newspaper and advertising jobs in Portland and Boston before starting his first publication, a weekly called the People's Ledger, in Boston in 1872. In 1876, he moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, then a major publishing center, to reduce his printing costs.[2][3]

Curtis's first wife was Louisa Knapp. In 1883, Knapp contributed a one-page supplement to the Tribune and Farmer, a magazine published by Curtis. The following year, the supplement was expanded as an independent publication with Louisa as the editor. Its original name was The Ladies Home Journal and Practical Housekeeper, but Knapp dropped the last three words in 1886.[4] The Ladies' Home Journal rapidly became the leading magazine of its type, reaching a circulation of one million subscriptions within ten years. It was the first American magazine to do so.

Louisa Knapp continued as editor until 1889, when she was succeeded by Edward William Bok. Several years later Bok married Mary Louise Curtis in 1896, becoming the Curtises' son-in-law. Bok retired from the magazine in 1919, but the changes he made had vastly increased circulation. Bok introduced business practices such as: low subscription rates, inclusion of advertising to off-set costs, and reliance on popular content. This operating structure was adopted by men's magazines such as McClure's and Munsey's roughly a decade after it had become the standard practice of American women's magazines. Scholars argue that women's magazines, like the Ladies' Home Journal, pioneered these strategies "magazine revolution".[5]

Curtis founded the Curtis Publishing Company in 1891; it would eventually publish Ladies' Home Journal, The Saturday Evening Post, Holiday, and others. A separate company founded by Curtis, Curtis-Martin Newspapers, controlled several newspapers, including for a time the Philadelphia Public Ledger, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and the New York Evening Post. Management mistakes at the newspapers led to poor financial returns, and eventually they were sold.

While Curtis was alive, his businesses, excepting the newspapers, were generally extremely successful. The Ladies Home Journal was for decades the most widely circulating women's magazine in the US, and The Saturday Evening Post enjoyed the highest circulation of any weekly magazine in the world. In 1929, the Post and the Journal together ran fully forty percent of all US magazine advertising.[2] One source lists Curtis as the 51st richest person ever, with a fortune of $43.2 billion adjusted for inflation (to 2008 dollars), which according to this source made him richer than J. P. Morgan.[6]

Curtis built Lyndon, a Renaissance revival estate in Wyncote, Pennsylvania, with landscaping designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. Two of Curtis's yachts, built 1907 and 1920, were named Lyndonia.[7]

Lyndonia in 1925
Second Lyndonia photographed 27 March 1925.

Curtis was more than an occasional sailor, however, noting in a 1922 New York Times interview, "Yachting is not a hobby with me. It is a necessity. I spend half my time on this ship," and further noting that most of his meetings with staff or board members were held in the second Lyndonia's dining room.[8] Curtis had three large yachts built at Charles L. Seabury Co.: the 115-foot Machigonne in 1904;[Note 1] the 163-foot Lyndonia in 1907; and the 228-foot Lyndonia in 1920.[Note 2][7] Curtis was a founding member of the Camden Yacht Club in Camden, Maine, and its Commodore from 1909 to 1933, later donating the club's facilities to the town.[9]

In the summer of 1932, Curtis suffered a heart attack while aboard his yacht, the second Lyndonia. While he was recuperating at Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia, his second wife, Kate Stanwood Cutter Pillsbury Curtis, died suddenly. Curtis then remained in frail health until his death on June 7, 1933, less than two weeks before his eighty-third birthday, and he was interred at West Laurel Hill Cemetery in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.[10]

Soon after his death, most of the buildings on Curtis's estate were demolished, and his daughter founded the Curtis Hall Arboretum on the site. After the Curtis Publishing Company moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1982, the company's former headquarters on Independence Square in downtown Philadelphia became the Curtis Center, home to a conference center, offices, a health club, retail shops, and restaurants.

Cyrus Curtis was among the first ten inductees in the American Advertising Federation's Advertising Hall of Fame (1999).[11]


Cyrus Curtis remains #20 on the list of the richest Americans ever.[12] He was known for his philanthropy to hospitals, museums, universities, and schools. He donated $2 million to the Franklin Institute, for example; $1.25 million to the Drexel Institute of Technology for the construction of Curtis Hall; and $1 million to the University of Pennsylvania.[2] He also purchased a pipe organ manufactured by the Austin Organ Company that had been displayed at the Philadelphia Sesquicentennial Exposition of 1926 and donated it to the University of Pennsylvania. It was incorporated into Irvine Auditorium when the building was constructed and is known to this day as the Curtis Organ, one of the largest pipe organs in the world. (The largest is said to reside in Philadelphia's John Wanamaker Building, only twenty blocks east of Irvine Auditorium.)[13] Curtis donated pipe organs to many institutions in Philadelphia and on the day of his funeral, all of those organs were played in his honor.

In memory of his boyhood music teacher, Hermann Kotzschmar, for whom he had been named, Curtis in 1912 donated the Kotzschmar Memorial Organ to Maine's Portland City Hall Auditorium.[14] In Thomaston, Maine, he funded the 1927-29 recreation of Montpelier, the demolished 1795 mansion of Revolutionary War general Henry Knox.

Curtis was a major organizer and backer of the Philadelphia Orchestra, founded in 1900. In its early years, he paid off its debts anonymously. Curtis's daughter, Mary Louise Curtis Bok, founded Philadelphia's Curtis Institute of Music in 1924 and dedicated it to her father.


Curtis residence

Lyndon (1895), Wyncote, PA. Demolished, except for the 1903 ballroom addition, now Curtis Hall.[15]

Curtis Hall II

Curtis Hall (1903), Church Rd. & Greenwood Ave., Wyncote, PA.

USS Lyndonia SP-734

The Lyndonia (built 1907).

Curtis building

Curtis Building (1910), 6th & Walnut Sts., Philadelphia, PA.

Curtis Dream Garden

Dream Garden mosaic (1916) by Louis Comfort Tiffany and Maxfield Parrish, in the Curtis Building.

Curtis Institute of Music - IMG 6559

Curtis Institute of Music (est. 1924), 18th & Locust Sts., Philadelphia, PA.


  1. ^ Not to be confused with the Machigonne built by the same builder in 1909 for William L. Douglas and later USS Machigonne (SP 507).
  2. ^ Both yachts named Lyndonia saw later service. Lyndonia of 1907 as the World War I Vega (SP 734) and Lyndonia of 1920 as Pan American World Airways' Southern Seas until it was commandeered by the US armed services for use in the Pacific theater during World War II.


  1. ^ "PHMC Cyrus H. K. Curtis (1850-1933)". Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d Ingham, John N. Biographical Dictionary of American Business Leaders: A-G. Greenwood Publishing Group, 1983, pp. 230-234.
  3. ^ Hatch, Louis Clinton. Maine: A History, volume 4. Published by The American Historical Society, 1919.
  4. ^ "Magazine Art, Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-11-04. Retrieved 2008-08-12.
  5. ^ Waller-Zuckerman, Mary Ellen (Winter 1989). "'Old Homes, in a City of Perpetual Change': Women's Magazines, 1890-1916". The Business History Review. 63 (4): 715–756. doi:10.2307/3115961.
  6. ^ Gladwell, Malcolm. Outliers. Little, Brown, New York, 2008.
  7. ^ a b T. Colton (February 18, 2013). "Consolidated Shipbuilding, Morris Heights NY". Shipbuilding History. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 7 April 2013.
  8. ^ Feld, Rose C. (1922). "Cyrus H. K. Curtis, The Man: Musician, Editor, Publisher and Capitalist". The New York Times (22 October 1922). Retrieved 7 April 2013.
  9. ^ Staff of VillageSoup and Knox County Times and Jim Bowditch. "Camden Yacht Club: History". Camden Yacht Club. Camden Yacht Club. Archived from the original on 17 July 2013. Retrieved 7 April 2013.
  10. ^ Cyrus Herman Kotzschmer Curtis, Find A Grave. Accessed August 29, 2007.
  11. ^ Anonymous. "Ad Hall of Fame Opens with 10 Industry Giants" Advertising Age; 06/14/99, Vol. 70 Issue 25, p77.
  12. ^ The Wealthy 100
  13. ^ List of World's Largest Pipe Organs Archived August 30, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Kotzschmar Organ Archived 2011-05-09 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ Anonymous. After Curtis Time magazine, Monday, Jul. 17, 1933

External links

Charles Ezra Beury

Charles Ezra Beury (pronounced "Berry"; August 13, 1879 – March 9, 1953) was the second president of Temple University from 1925 to 1941.

Dr. Beury was a banker before he became a college president. A son of the coal-operating Beurys for whom Beury, W. Va., is named, Charles Ezra Beury graduated from Princeton University in 1903. When he received a law degree from Harvard three years later it was in absentia because that day he was marrying the Lutheran pastor's daughter in his native Shamokin, Pennsylvania. His stock joke: "I became a bachelor and a benedict on the same day."

A career as lawyer and banker brought him to Temple's board of trustees where Russell Conwell spotted him as a likely successor. After his election Beury tried for a while to be both president of Temple University and board chairman of Bank of Philadelphia & Trust Co. In 1930 the bank was merged with Bankers Trust Co. of Philadelphia and Beury stepped out of the chairmanship. Few months later, Bankers Trust Co. went down with a resounding crash.

With Temple, Beury fared much better. Raising $6,000,000, he built a twelve-story classroom building, a student centre, and a new plant for the school of medicine. He acquired a school of chiropody. In 1932 he signed up Glenn Scobey Warner to coach football in what was at the time a new stadium.

Temple's benefactors have included Publisher Cyrus H. K. Curtis, his son-in-law Edward Bok, and Mr. & Mrs. George F. Tyler, who gave the $1,000,000 School of Fine Arts now headed by Sculptor Boris Blai. In 1929 Thomas D. Sullivan, president of Philadelphia's Terminal Warehouse Co. and brother of Pundit Mark Sullivan, left $278,000 towards a library. In 1934, with private benefactions dried up, Beury turned to the PWA for $550,000 to complete the building.

Curtis Hall Arboretum

The Curtis Arboretum is a forty-five-acre arboretum located at 1250 Church Road (Route 73), Wyncote, Pennsylvania in Cheltenham Township, near Philadelphia. The arboretum was founded by Mary Louise Curtis Bok in honor of her father, Cyrus Curtis. The landscaping was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. The arboretum is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The arboretum surrounds Curtis Hall, once the ballroom of the Curtis family mansion, which now is operated by the Cheltenham Township Parks and Recreation Department. The arboretum features hills, two ponds, a dog park, a small World War II memorial, and over fifty types of trees.

Curtis Arboretum serves as the home course for the Cheltenham High School men's and women's cross country teams.

Curtis Island (Maine)

Curtis Island, once known as either Negro or Nigger Island, is an island located in the exterior of Camden Harbor, in Camden, Maine. The island was renamed Curtis in 1934 after Cyrus H. K. Curtis, publisher of the Saturday Evening Post, a long time resident and benefactor of Camden.There is a lighthouse and caretaker's house on the southwestern point of the island. There are two paths around either side of the island and one open grassy path down the middle. The island light is depicted in the Fitz Henry Lane painting Lighthouse at Camden, Maine.

Curtis Organ

The Curtis Organ, named for publisher Cyrus H. K. Curtis, is one of the largest pipe organs in the world with 162 ranks and 10,731 pipes. It was manufactured by the Austin Organ Company as its Opus 1416 in 1926 for the Philadelphia Sesquicentennial Exposition. It was known as the "Organists' Organ" because the specifications were formulated by Henry S. Fry, John McE. Ward, Rollo F. Maitland, Frederick Maxson, and S. Wesley Sears, all prominent Philadelphia organists.Curtis acquired the instrument after the Exposition went bankrupt and donated it to the University of Pennsylvania, where it was incorporated into Irvine Auditorium at the time of the building's construction.

The organ contains the largest Universal Air Chest ever built by Austin. In its original configuration in the Auditorium building, the organ spread 75 feet across its platform at the Sesquicentennial Exposition. This pressurized room under the pipes allows access to the organ's pneumatic mechanisms while it is playing, and was touted as being able to seat 100 people to dinner comfortably. The organ's mechanical actions were renewed in the 1950s through the generosity of Mary Louise Curtis Bok Zimbalist, daughter of Cyrus H. K. Curtis and founder of The Curtis Institute of Music. In the later 1980s and early 1990s, the organ was connected to a customized MIDI interface, making it, at that time, the world's largest MIDI-capable instrument. In more recent times, the Austin Organ Company carried out a complete mechanical restoration of the organ (with a new console and relay system added), carefully preserving the organ's tonal integrity. It was rededicated in October 2002.

Derek Bok

Derek Curtis Bok (born March 22, 1930) is an American lawyer and educator, and the former president of Harvard University.

General Pershing WWI casualty list

The General Pershing WWI casualty list was a list of casualties released to the media by the American military during World War I. Newspapers like the Evening Public Ledger would title the list's summary, General Pershing Reports or Pershing Reports. The name General Pershing refers to General John Pershing who was in command of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) the expeditionary force of the United States Army during World War I. While fighting the Germans on the Western Front the AEF would take daily casualties in the form of those killed in action (KIA), those who died from their wounds, those who died from disease, accidental deaths, soldiers missing in action (MIA) and soldiers wounded in action (WIA). These numbers would be tabulated by the American military and then released to the American news media. Much after the war the real numbers were mined from the military bureaucracy as opposed to the fog of war. During WWI 4,734,991 served in the American military. There were a total of 116,516 deaths with 53,402 of those in battle. Another 63,114 died in accidental deaths but around 45,000 died due to the 1918 Spanish Flu outbreak (30,000 before they even reached France). Of those that survived the war 204,002 were wounded in some way.One of the publications that printed this data along with the names who were reported dead and wounded was the Philadelphia newspaper Evening Public Ledger. The Public Ledger was a daily newspaper in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania published from March 25, 1836 to January 1942. Its motto was "Virtue Liberty and Independence". For a time, it was Philadelphia's most popular newspaper, but circulation declined in the mid-1930s. In 1913, Cyrus H. K. Curtis purchased the paper from Ochs for $2 million ($ 50,700,000 in 2019) and hired his step son-in-law John Charles Martin as editor. Under Curtis' ownership, the conservative appearance of the Ledger was increased: it avoided bold headlines and seldom printed photographs on the front page. Its conservative format has been compared by scholars to the Wall Street Journal or New York Times of the twentieth century. Curtis built the Ledger's foreign news service and syndicated it to other papers. From 1918 to 1921, former President William Howard Taft was on staff as an editorial contributor. To broaden the market, and compete against The Evening Bulletin, in 1914 Curtis began publishing the Evening Public Ledger, a bolder paper designed to appeal to a broader public.

Lyndonia (1920)

Lyndonia, built 1920, was the second steam-yacht bearing the name and the third yacht built for publisher Cyrus H.K. Curtis by the then Consolidated Shipbuilding Company of Morris Heights, New York. The name is taken from the historic name of his estate, Lyndon, in Wyncote, Pennsylvania. After Curtis' death in 1933 the yacht was purchased by Pan American Airways, converted to a floating hotel for use in the south Pacific and renamed Southern Seas in a shuttle service from Nouméa to Australia. At the outbreak of World War II the vessel was taken over by the U.S. Army for use as a passenger and cargo ship until grounded on a New Caledonian reef. The ship was salvaged by the U.S. Navy, repaired in New Zealand, commissioned 23 December 1942 as USS Southern Seas and designated as a Patrol Yacht (PY-32).

Mary Louise Curtis

Mary Louise Curtis (August 6, 1876 in Boston, Massachusetts – January 4, 1970 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) was the founder of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. She was the only child of the magazine and newspaper magnate Cyrus H. K. Curtis and Louisa Knapp Curtis, the founder and editor of the Ladies' Home Journal.

Merle Hay

Merle David Hay (July 20, 1896 – November 3, 1917) was the first Iowa serviceman and perhaps the first American serviceman to die in World War I, along with Corporal James Bethel Gresham of Evansville, Indiana and Thomas Enright of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Rabbit pie

Rabbit pie is a game pie consisting of rabbit meat in a gravy with other ingredients (typically onions, celery and carrots) enclosed in a pastry crust. Rabbit pie is part of traditional American and English cuisine. It has recently found renewed popularity.

SS Charles Bulfinch

SS Charles Bulfinch (MC contract 999) was a Liberty ship built in the United States during World War II. She was named after Charles Bulfinch, an American architect whose major works include Massachusetts State House in Boston and the completion of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C..

The ship was laid down at the Bethlehem Fairfield Shipyard, Baltimore, on 14 May 1943, then launched on 10 June 1943. The ship survived the war and was scrapped in 1971.

SS Charles C. Randleman

SS Charles C. Randleman was a Liberty ship built in the United States during World War II. She was named after Charles C. Randleman, who was lost at sea while he was a messman on SS William C. McTarnaban, after she was torpedoed by German submarine U-506, on 16 May 1942, in the Gulf of Mexico.

SS Charles H. Herty

SS Charles H. Herty was a Liberty ship built in the United States during World War II. It was named after American chemist Charles Herty.

SS Charles W. Stiles

SS Charles W. Stiles was a Liberty ship built in the United States during World War II. She was named after Charles W. Stiles, a parasitologist and zoologist for the U.S. government at the Bureau of Animal Industry in the Department of Agriculture (1891–1902), and was later chief zoologist at the Hygienic Laboratory of the US Public Health and Marine Hospital Service (1902–1931).

Settlement Music School

Settlement Music School is a community music school with branches in and around Philadelphia. Founded in 1908 by two young women, Jeannette Selig Frank and Blanche Wolf Kohn, it is the largest community school of the arts in the United States offering 10,000 weekly services at six branches in Pennsylvania and New Jersey to thousands of people of all abilities, ages, races and financial means. Its six branches are in South, West and Northeast Philadelphia, Germantown, Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, and Camden, New Jersey.

Settlement Music School offers programs in music and dance. Settlement awards nearly $2 million a year in financial aid. It is the largest employer of musicians in the region, with over 200 faculty members; since its founding, its faculty has included current and former members of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Among its alumni are Albert Einstein, Michael and Kevin Bacon, Stanley Clarke, Chubby Checker, Wallace Roney, Joey DeFrancesco, Christian McBride, former Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo and Kevin Eubanks, as well as members of many symphony orchestras across the United States and around the world.

Mary Louise Curtis Bok Zimbalist, only child of Cyrus H. K. Curtis, a wealthy magazine publisher and founder of the Curtis Publishing Company, became involved with the Settlement School at the age of 48. At the time the school was focused on providing musical training to young immigrants. Mrs. Bok made a gift to the school of $150,000 for a Settlement Music House. The music house's goal was "Americanization among the foreign population of Philadelphia." A close friend of the Bok family, pianist Josef Hofmann, played a recital at the school's dedication. Today this facility on 416 Queen Street in Philadelphia is known as the Mary Louise Curtis Branch.

The Country Gentleman

The Country Gentleman (1831–1955) was an American agricultural magazine founded in 1831 in Rochester, NY by Luther Tucker. The magazine was purchased by Philadelphia-based Curtis Publishing Company in 1911. Curtis redirected the magazine to address the business side of farming, which was largely ignored by the agricultural magazines of the time. In 1955, The Country Gentleman was the second most popular agricultural magazine in the US, with a circulation of 2,870,380. That year it was purchased by, and merged into, Farm Journal, an agricultural magazine with a slightly larger circulation.

The Philadelphia Press

The Philadelphia Press (or The Press) is a defunct newspaper that was published from August 1, 1857, to October 1, 1920.

The paper was founded by John Weiss Forney. Charles Emory Smith was editor and owned a stake in the paper from 1880 until his death in 1908. In 1920, it was purchased by Cyrus H. K. Curtis, who merged the Press into the Public Ledger.Before being published in book form, Stephen Crane's 1895 novel The Red Badge of Courage was serialized in The Philadelphia Press in 1894. Earlier, in 1888, Robert Louis Stevenson's The Black Arrow appeared in the paper in serialized form under the title "The Outlaws of Tunstall Forest," with illustrations by Alfred Brennan, before the first hardcover book publication by Charles Scribner's Sons.

USS Investigator (AGR-9)

USS Investigator (AGR-9/YAGR-9) was a Guardian-class radar picket ship acquired by the U.S. Navy in 1956 from the "mothballed" reserve fleet. She was reconfigured as a radar picket ship and assigned to radar picket duty in the North Atlantic Ocean as part of the Distant Early Warning Line.

USS Lookout (YAGR-2)

USS Lookout (YAGR-2/AGR-2) was a Guardian-class radar picket ship acquired by the U.S. Navy in 1954. She was reconfigured as a radar picket ship and assigned to radar picket duty in the North Atlantic Ocean as part of the Distant Early Warning Line.

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