This article was submitted by the Saunders Alumni Association
About Ervin Saunders
Ervin Saunders, one of Yonkers leading citizens, considered it his duty and privilege to donate a large portion of his estate to improve life in Yonkers, giving to the causes he hoped would be in the best interest of his home city. He had a happy and successful life here and wanted to help Yonkers youth live more useful lives and become better citizens through education. He left most of his million-dollar estate to local charities, and perhaps is best known for bequeathing $240,000 to establish and maintain a trade school to be named after his father David Saunders.
Another generous bequest was $50,000 to the Yonkers Public Library, matching what Andrew Carnegie donated to build the beautiful library that once stood at the corner of South Broadway and Nepperhan Avenue. His bequest created a trust fund specifically to purchase technical journals and books, making him one of the two largest donors to the library.
About his portrait
When the Carnegie Library celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1954, trustees of the Hudson River Museum commemorated the event with a special gift, portraits of Saunders and Carnegie painted by William Collins. Carnegie was an easy subject as there were many pictures and paintings of him. Saunders proved to be much more difficult. A bachelor without family or close relatives, he apparently never took pictures of himself. Friends, former employees and distant relatives were contacted with no luck. Finally, a-small metal cut of Saunders was found in the library files and Collins used it to create the portrait.
Both paintings were hung on the walls just inside the library’s main entrance, remaining there until the library was demolished. Today, Carnegie’s portrait hangs in the Board Room at the Riverfront Library, but there is no trace of Ervin Saunders’ portrait.
If you have seen the portrait of Ervin Saunders, please contact the Saunders Alumni Association at [email protected]