Nestled in the midst of “Museum Mile”, which includes the Guggenheim, the Frick Collection and diagonally across from the Metropolitan Museum of Art on the southeast corner of 79th Street and Fifth Avenue,stands one of the most magnificent turn-of-the-century mansions in New York City that houses the Ukrainian Institute of America (UIA). The history of the Fletcher-Sinclair mansion dates back to 1898 when Isaac Fletcher, a banker and railroad investor, commissioned the renowned architect C.P.H. Gilbert to build a house using William K. Vanderbilt’s neo-Loire Valley chateau as its model on the property which was originally the Lenox farm. Mr. Fletcher was so pleased with his new home that he hired Jean Francois Raffaelli to paint a portrait of it. The painting, the mansion and Fletcher’s extensive art collection were all eventually bequeathed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1917.
Harry F. Sinclair, founder of the Sinclair Oil Company, purchased the French Renaissance-style Fletcher Mansion in 1920 and sold it in 1930 to Augustus Van Horne Stuyvesant, Jr., the last direct male descendant of New York governor, Peter Stuyvesant. A bachelor and recluse, Stuyvesant occupied the mansion with his unmarried sister until her death in 1938 then lived out his remaining years until 1953 with just a butler and footman to serve him.
William Dzus, inventor and owner of the Dzus Fastener Company in West Islip, Long Island, New York founded the Ukrainian Institute of America, Inc. in 1948, for the purpose of promoting Ukrainian art, culture, music, and literature. At that time, the Ukrainian Institute was located in the Parkwood Mansion in West Islip, Long Island. With increasing membership and growth, Mr. Dzus authorized Francis Clarke, treasurer of the Dzus Fastener Company, to look for new, larger quarters in New York City. The capacious Fletcher-Sinclair Mansion, with its prestigious address and unique architectural style, was purchased in 1955 by the Ukrainian Insitute of America corporation with the charitable generosity and support of Mr. Dzus. In June of 1962 the mortgage was paid off and subsequently the Ukrainian Institute of America attained landmark status.
The Ukrainian Institute of America holds events that uphold William Dzus’ aspirations and whose dreams are still very much alive and thriving. Past events sponsored by UIA include: the Les Kurbas Theater performance based on the writings of Lesia Ukrainka; a scholarly conference on the 130th anniversary of Ukrainian historian Mykhailo Hrushevsky’s birth; the 200th anniversary of Mykola Hohol’s (Nikolai Gogol) birth with music, art, film and literary events over a Hohol Arts Fest weekend; seminars, symposia and conferences presented Ukrainian organizations interpreting news and political events happening in Ukraine and the diaspora; commemoration of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster and the Holodomor-Genocide with exhibits and film presentations; Music at the Institute classical music concert series under the directorship of Dr. Solomiya Ivakhiv remains a vital component for music lovers.