Mary French Rockefeller

Rockefeller, Mary

Time Period

1910-1940

Notable Facts

Rockefeller donated her home and surrounding property in Woodstock, Vermont for the state's first national park.She and her husband advised the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation in Plymouth, Vermont and were instrumental in funding a program to bury wires and telephone lines in the historic site.Through the YWCA, she was an advocate for women throughout the world.

Personal Information

Date of Birth

1910

Date of Death

1997

Primary Residence

Woodstock

Historical Significance

Mary French Rockefeller is the granddaughter of Frederick Billings. Frederick Billings was a lawyer and president of the Northern Pacific Railroad (1879-1881) and was involved in the earliest efforts to create Yosemite and Yellowstone national parks. After his time spent in the west, Billings returned to Woodstock to build his estate. Billings started his forestry work on Mt. Tom of Woodstock in 1874. He was the founder of one of the first scientifically managed forests in the United States.

After attending Vassar College,in 1934, she married Laurence Rockefeller. His grandfather was John D.Rockefeller, the founder of Standard Oil.

Following in her grandfather's footsteps, Mary French Rockefeller and her husband, Laurance Rockefeller, founded the Billings Farm & Museum at the Billings estate. In 1992, Mr. and Mrs. Rockefeller donated her family home and surrounding property in Woodstock, Vermont to the federal government for development as the state's first national park and protecting Mount Tom as well as preserving Woodstock's character. Mary and Laurence Rockefellers' work lives on through the programs they have created. They worked on the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission which contributed to the creation of the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the Wilderness Act and the National System of Scenic Rivers.

Mrs. Rockefeller was a dedicated supporter of the Young Women's Christian Association and traveled over the world to study the YWCA's activities.

She was a trustee of Spelman College for 25 years, a trustee of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, the Woodstock (Vermont) Historical Society, and the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation of Plymouth, Vermont. In 1988, she wrote a new introduction to "Grace Coolidge and her Era: the Story of a President's Wife," by Ishbel Ross. Mrs. Rockefeller wrote that the book "gives us new insight on those times, and it demonstrates how (Grace Coolidge's)grace, charm and good humor proved a steadying and supportive influence upon a heavily burdened President and upon all those around her."

Organizations or Movements

  • Woodstock Historical Society
  • The Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation
  • Young Women's Christian Association
  • Spelman College
  • Whitney Museum of American Art
  • Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

Occupations

  • Philanthropist
  • preservationist.

Education

  • Class of 1931, Vassar College