Richard “Dick” Jenrette, a Wall Street investment banker who devoted his free time to purchasing and restoring historic homes, died on April 22, 2018 in Charleston, South Carolina. He was 89 years old. Jenrette was one of the founders of Donaldson, Lufkin, & Jenrette, an investment bank that was absorbed by Credit Suisse for $11.5 billion in 2000.
Since the 1960s, Jenrette, a self-proclaimed “house-aholic,” restored a dozen historic homes, most dating to the nineteenth century. Though most of his energy was directed at the historic housing stock of Charleston, including financing the 1970 restoration of the Mills House Hotel originally built in 1853, he also did a considerable amount of work in New York. His own New York residence was made in the George F. Baker Houses on Park Avenue, one of the last family compounds in the city, which dates to the 1920s. Jenrette carefully restored the home, saving most of their original fixtures and the historic elevator, after purchasing them from the Baker family in 1988.
Jenrette was a hands-on preservationist who wrote Adventures with Old Houses in 1998 to share his love of historic house restoration. He was active in a number of preservation organizations including the President’s Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and Historic Hudson Valley. In 1996, he was awarded the highest honor in historic preservation, the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Louise du Pont Crowninshield Award.
In 1993, Jenrette founded the Classical American Homes Preservation Trust to purchase and preserve his beloved homes in perpetuity. In one of his final contributions to the world of historic preservation, Jenrette arranged for the Trust to open all of the properties to the public so that his legacy may be enjoyed. He will be sadly missed by many in the preservation community.