On the morning of 4th of December 1915, the businessman and political operative Andrew Fredman passed away, at the early age of 55. He was never married, even though Elsie Rothschild was for a short period of time his fiancée. One year before, Freedman served as best man at his friend’s second marriage, Richard Croker. Freedman’s health began to deteriorate slowly and several bouts of exhaustion led to a final nervous breakdown in November 1915. 24-hour medical care was provided to him in his apartment in Manhattan. Nevertheless, Freedman suffered a stroke and died at the beginning of December. Following his death, the periodicals at the time praised his business and civic achievements, stating that Freedman was the person “who did more than perhaps any other man to make possible the subway system in this city.”
The wealthy capitalist drew up a will in early 1907 that contained clear instructions about what is to happen to his fortune after his death. In December 1915, Andrew Freedman’s will was made public and revealed the sizable bequest for a charitable institution, the Andrew Freedman Home. The unusual charity intended to offer help for the once wealthy but “by reason of adverse fortune, have become poor and dependent”. Although he planned to erect an institution, Freedman left clear instructions not to refer to the residents of the Home as “inmates”, but call them “members”, as if they were part of a private clubhouse. Aged couples or single persons of all occupations were kindly welcomed at the Home: doctors, businessmen, politicians, actors, opera singers or German and Jewish refugees. At its peak, in 1928, Andrew Freedman Home could accommodate up to 130 members.
According to the time’s journals, the original bequest was approximately $2.500.000 and more than $2.000.000 were added to the trust upon the death of his mother and sister. A total of $5.000.000 were invested in a “New Idea in Philanthropy”, the Andrew Freedman Home.