The large library/drawing room on the main floor once housed one of the finest rare book collections in the United States collected by Harry Elkins Widener. Harry was George’s son and Peter’s eldest grandson. On April 15, 1912 at about 2:20 am the Titanic Sank with Harry and George loosing their lives while returning from Europe while aboard the Titanic.
Harry’s purpose for traveling to England was to explore and search for rare books. The family booked their return trip on the Titanic to celebrate the family investment success in the White Star Lines which built the vessel. Harry sent several books he purchased home, but was traveling with several that he felt to rare to be sent home via the post.
Eleanor Widener and her servant survived the ordeal. It is said Harry missed a chance to board a life boat because he went back to his state room for a rare book he purchased of Bacon’s Essais, 1598. He was last seen on deck by survivor William Earnest Carter, a friend of the Widener’s, who told Harry to try to board a boat. Carter said Harry wanted to take his chances on the big ship. He was never seen again.