Great-Granddaughter Of Erlanger Founder Pays First Chattanooga Visit

Monday, October 18, 2010
Minnie d’Erlanger Churchill poses with her great-grandmother's bust at Erlanger Hospital
Minnie d’Erlanger Churchill poses with her great-grandmother's bust at Erlanger Hospital
- photo by Wes Schultz

Minnie d’Erlanger Churchill, great-granddaughter of Baron Frederic Emil d’Erlanger and the Baroness Marguerite Slidell Mathilde d’Erlanger – for whom Erlanger Hospital was named – paid her first visit to Chattanooga on Monday.

Baron d’Erlanger contributed $5,000 in 1889 to start Chattanooga’s first hospital, which has grown into the region’s largest and most comprehensive teaching healthcare institution.

A descendant of one of Chattanooga’s leading benefactors, Mrs. Churchill has deep connections to two families with long ties to both European royalty and politics and American finance and industry.

Baron d’Erlanger was a German-born English financier who headed a syndicate that helped develop the northern Kentucky city, Erlanger, that bears his name. His land syndicate persuaded the Queen and Crescent Railroad (now Norfolk Southern) to make Erlanger, Ky., a stop for all passenger trains – and offered free rail transportation to anyone moving to that city.

Mrs. Churchill decided she wanted to come to the United States from England to see the railroad owned by her ancestors in Kentucky, as well as the hospital in Chattanooga named for her great-grandmother.

Mrs. Churchill was married to Winston Churchill’s grandson, the late Winston Spencer Churchill, for 33 years. He was the only son of socialite Pamela Digby Churchill (later to become famous at Pamela Harriman) and Randolph Spencer Churchill.

Minnie Churchill has made it her life’s work to locate all of Sir Winston Churchill’s paintings which were scattered throughout the world after he gave them as gifts to U.S. presidents, and members of royalty. Many copies of the former British Prime Minister’s paintings are in the book Mrs. Churchill co-wrote, “Sir Winston Churchill: His Life and His Paintings.”

In addition to touring the hospital named for her great-grandmother, Mrs. Churchill visited points of interest connected to her family history during her brief trip to Chattanooga – including the site of the old Stanton House near the Chattanooga Choo Choo terminal, and Lookout Mountain.

It was at a dinner at the Stanton House where Baron d'Erlanger heard about the need for a Chattanooga hospital and made his $5,000 pledge.

She was feted at a dinner at the Chattanoogan hotel on Monday night.

At the dinner, Mrs. Churchhill surprised Erlanger CEO Jim Brexler by presenting him a copy of a portrait of her great-grandmother. She said the original portrait hangs in her bedroom in England.

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