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Death of Peter Mari 1903

Social Leader in New York
  Peter Mari died at 1:30 o'clock yesterday afternoon at his residence, 6 East Thirty-seventh Street, in the seventy-eighth year of his age, from complication of diseases. He had been in failing health for a long time, and his last illness prostrated him about ten days ago.

The funeral services will be held in St. Patrick's Cathedral on Friday morning at 10 o'clock.

Peter Mari may be called the last gentleman of the old school in New York society. There are other men who have courtly manners and who have been noted for generous and kindly hospitality, but they are in a way mere boys, and none of them has in his veins the Gallic blood which does so much toward making the gallant. Mr. Mari was not, however, the modern Gaul, but a survival practically from the eighteenth century.

He came from an old French family which held office at Cap Francais, in the French West Indies, in the days before the Revolution. His grandfather was Maitre du Port in that place. In 1792 he lost his life in an accident by drowning. The men who were sent to San Domingo in those days from France were of excellent families. They carried with them to that island all the manner and the graces of the Courts of the Louis.

Mr. Mari's maternal grandfather was a planter on the same island. He owned a large estate there, and was assassinated at a banquet which was being held to celebrate the cessation of hostilities between the whites and the blacks. His name was Arnaud, and his widow, like many other ladies of San Domingo, made her escape to the United States, boarding a merchant vessel. She was an American. Her youngest daughter was Leontine Arnaud, who, in 1811, at the age of sixteen, married John B. Marie, the father of Peter. Mr. Marie was the fourth son in a family of nine. His father became a prosperous ship merchant, trading with Mexico. He died in 1835.

Peter Marie, the fourth child, was born early in the last century, when all the traditions of the old Court life in France and the similar existence in the Colonies in the homes of the wealthy planters and Government officials were still fresh. There was a small circle of French people in New York, many of whom had succeeded in escaping the terrors of the famous revolt of negroes in San Domingo. They formed a part of the old society of this city. The Brugieres, the Maturins, and others are descended from them, as were also the Grymes, through Mrs. Claiborne of New Orleans, the Alliens, and many others.

Peter Mari was brought up in the mercantile establishment of his father and for years continued in business. He amassed a comfortable fortune in the early sixties, and this, added to his inheritance, enabled him to retire early. Ten years before he had become a member of the Union Club then the only great social organization of New York. He was always very fond of society, and from his youth he was considered what was called in those days a great beau. French fashions and French customs were more to the taste of the gilded youth of those days, and they took little from England. Mr. Mari was always a welcome dinner guest, he danced at all the balls and assemblies, and there were few young men who were better known or more popular.

His life as a bachelor suited him. It was the custom for men to marry young in the ante-bellum days, and Mr. Mari was one of the very few bachelors in town, who, although most gallant and most devoted to the fair sex, was content with his own lot, and who lived in a house of his own and entertained as a bachelor host. His residence was at 48 West Nineteenth Street, one of the best sites in the city, near to the then new building of the Union Club, and quite far up town. There he began his famous dinners and his little evenings.

In the house in Nineteenth Street he began the foundation for an extraordinary collection of objects of art. he always with gentle insistence claimed the miniature or the portrait of every new beauty he met. This was done with such rare courtesy that the fair doner could not refuse. His house became a museum for the pictures of all the beauties in New York society and in other cities as well. The walls were adorned with their likenesses, and to be in the collection was always deemed an honor.

But Mr. Mari did not stop there. He was a man of culture and of reading. His library is one of the finest in New York, if not in America. He had a passion for rare old books and artistic bindings, and collectors were always at work for him to add to his library. He was a rare judge of paintings and of antiques, and his house soon become too small to hold the collection. But everything he had was good, and there was no sign of crowding anywhere.

And to all this, Mr. Mari added another accomplishment. He was a delightful writer of verse not serious, exactly, but of that pretty kind which was the fashion at the end of the eighteenth century, when patches and powder were in vogue and the minuet was danced.

Among his surviving relatives in New York are the widow of his brother, Joseph Mari, and her two daughters, Misses Leontine and Josephine Mari. The younger of these has written several books which have had a great success. The daughter of his sister, the late Mrs. Emil Sauer, is Mrs. Suse. Her daughter was one of the debutantes of the Winter. Another sister was the Vicomtesse de Bermingham, and another married Ferdinand Thierot of Leipsic, whose father had been Chamberlain to the King of Saxony. A niece was the first wife of Frank Pendleton. His eldest brother was Camille Mari

Mr. Mari belonged to the Union, the Knickerbocker, the Grolier, the City, and the Tuxedo clubs, the American Geographical Society, the New York Academy of Sciences and other societies, and was a patron of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Academy of Design, and the American Museum of Natural History. He was Vice President of the New York Institute for the Blind.

Website: The History
Article Name: Death of Peter Mari 1903
Researcher/Transcriber: Miriam Medina


 New York Times Jan 14, 1903 p.9 (1 page)
Time & Date Stamp:  


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