History of Mount Sinai West

James Henry Roosevelt, whose bequest founded the Roosevelt Hospital, was the son of James Christopher Roosevelt and Catherine Byvanck Roosevelt. He was also a distant cousin of President Theodore Roosevelt.

Roosevelt was born at his family’s home on Warren Street in lower Manhattan on November 10, 1800. Following his earlier education in neighborhood schools, he enrolled in Columbia College, where his studies included law, and was graduated in 1819.  He subsequently set up a law practice in New York City. Roosevelt has been described as a young man of pleasing appearance, brown hair, above-average height, with a gentle and courteous demeanor. He was engaged to be married to Julia Boardman, who was from an old New York City family.James Henry Roosevelt, whose bequest founded the Roosevelt Hospital, was the son of James Christopher Roosevelt and Catherine Byvanck Roosevelt He was also a distant cousin of President Theodore Roosevelt.

But, suddenly, an illness left him physically disabled, ending his plans for both career and marriage. As a result of his physical limitations, Roosevelt abandoned his law practice and broke his engagement with Boardman as he did not want to ‘burden’ her. They remained life-long friends, and one of the few bequests he made, which include the funding that ultimately founded Roosevelt Hospital, was an annuity for Boardman, who was also executrix of his will.

Roosevelt devoted much of his time to real estate dealings and managing his securities, thereby substantially increasing his worth. It is thought that he conserved and increased his funds for one specific purpose: to support “The establishment in the City of New York of a hospital for the reception and relief of sick and diseased persons.” When he died in 1863, he left in excess of one million dollars toward that objective. Under the terms of Roosevelt’s will, the hospital was established as a hospital that cared for individuals regardless of ability to pay. It is suspected that since Henry himself experienced illness, he was sympathetic toward others facing similar challenges.

Roosevelt’s remains were first buried in his family's vault in the New York City Marble Cemetery. They were moved to the Roosevelt Hospital grounds in 1876, and accompanied with a monument, which remains today in the garden facing Tenth Avenue. Due to hospital expansions, Roosevelt’s remains were moved two more times. In 1994, his remains were exhumed and, in the spring of 1995, re-interred in Marble Cemetery.

Historical Timeline

Mount Sinai West has made a number of critical contributions to research, education, and patient care. These include: