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James Deering
(November 12, 1859 - September 21, 1925) USA

James Deering

Industrialist

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James Deering was born in the western Maine town of South Paris. He was the son of William Deering and his second wife, Clara Hammond Deering. His older half-brother was the arts patron Charles Deering. His father, who had inherited the family woolen mill and was landowner in the Northeast, invested in a farm-equipment manufacturing company, renaming it the Deering Harvester Company.

In 1873, he moved the family to Chicago, Illinois. The Deering Harvester Company grew in value, so that by the end of the 19th century, the Deerings had become one of America's wealthiest families, although his father William was conservative in family spending. His parents did acquire a residence in St. Augustine, Florida, for the winter season. James Deering attended one year each at Northwestern University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before also joining the company at the same time.

James joined the Deering Harvester Company in 1880 as treasurer. In 1902, with the Bank of J.P. Morgan purchasing Deering Harvester Company and McCormick Reaper Company, a resulting merger formed the International Harvester corporation and the largest producer of agricultural machinery in the nation. James Deering became vice-president of the new corporation, responsible for the three Illinois manufacturing plants. In 1909, he was phased out of daily company affairs by J.P. Morgan interests.

By the turn of the century, James Deering owned homes on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago, in the countryside near Evanston, Illinois, in New York City, and in Paris, France. His name appeared in social columns as an arts connoisseur, socialite, international traveler, and cultural ambassador. He hosted events for French dignitaries at his New York and Chicago residences. In 1906, for Deering's work in promoting agricultural technology development in France, he was awarded the Légion d'honneur ("National Order of the Legion of Honour").

He retired from the vice-presidency of International Harvester, with his health weakening due to pernicious anemia, so in 1910, Deering purchased land in Coconut Grove, south of Miami and north of his brother's Charles Deering Estate. James Deering and Paul Chalfin then partnered to travel and create 'Vizcaya' there. Vizcaya was likely inspired by the baroque Villa Rezzonico-Borella in Bassano del Grappa, in the Italian Veneto, built in the 17th and 18th centuries.

James Deering died on board the steamship SS City of Paris en route back to the United States. Following the death of James Deering, Villa Vizcaya passed to his two nieces. They sold the villa and formal gardens, and in 1955 the village 'core estate' to Miami-Dade County for a museum and gardens to be open to the public.

Deering was discretely homosexual, but is referred to only as a "life-long bachelor". Many speculate James Deering to have had a relationship with John Singer Sargent, who painted his portrait.

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Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Painting: James Deering, 1917, by John Singer Sargent

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