The Muriel Vanderbilt Collection

Cover Image:
Muriel Vanderbilt at Pebble Beach Stables, California, 1925 – 1929.
Muriel Vanderbilt at Pebble Beach Stables, California, 1925 – 1929.

Collection Facts


Historical Context

Muriel Vanderbilt (November 23, 1900 – February 3, 1972) was the oldest daughter of William K. Vanderbilt Jr., creator of the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, and Virginia Graham Faire. Muriel was born in New York City and grew up between Long Island and the West Coast.

Muriel was married three times in her life. Her first marriage was to Frederic Cameron Church Jr., an insurance executive, on July 25, 1925. The couple divorced in 1929, and on September 11, 1931, she married her second husband, Henry D. Phelps. After divorcing Phelps in 1936, Muriel married a third and final time to John Payson Adams on August 29, 1944.

Muriel shared her mother and paternal grandfather’s love of horses, and owned a ranch near Carmel, California where she kept thoroughbred racehorses. In 1947, she bought Edenvale Farm, a horse farm near San Jose, California, where she bred and raised thoroughbreds and built her own private training track. Muriel raised several prominent racehorses, such as Miche who won the 1952 Santa Anita Handicap. In 1956, Muriel sold Edenvale Farm and later in life would own an 80-acre horse farm in Marion County, Florida. Muriel’s most famous racehorse was Desert Vixen, who was inducted into the United States Racing Hall of Fame in 1979.

Muriel Vanderbilt Church Phelps Adams died in Florida on February 3, 1972, at the age of seventy-one.

Scope of Collection

The Muriel Vanderbilt collection contains photographs, documents, and photo albums relating to Muriel Vanderbilt’s personal life and interests. Additionally, there are scrapbooks, photo albums, and news clippings from John Payson Adams, Muriel’s 3rd husband.