Stanford White was the son of a Shakespearian Actor who rose to become a prominent Architect, and a partner in the preminent Beau-Art architectural firm, McKim, Mead & White.
White's work in New York City included the second Madison Square Garden (demolished in 1925), The Cable Building, Madison Square Presbyterian Church, the New York Herald Building (demolished in 1894), the First Bowery Savings bank at Bowery and Grand Street, the Washington Square Arch, the Judson Memorial Church on Washington Square, and the Century Club. He also designed a number of the Fifth Avenue Mansions for people such as the Astors and the Vanderbilts.
White was known as something of a ladies man, his apartment was rumoured to have a red velvet swing in which he would have women "in varying states of undress" entertain him. One such woman was Evelyn Nesbit. Nesbit was an actress and artist's model, White met in 1901, and with whom White had an affair when she was 16, and he was 47. Nesbit subsequently married Harry Kendall Thaw, a Pittsburgh coal and railroad baron. on April 4, 1905. It was rumoured that Thaw was a cocaine addict with sadistic tendencies. He was said to be possessive of Nesbit and obsessive about her relationship with White.
On June 25, 1906, Nesbit and her husband were in New York, dining at the Café Martin, when they ran into Stanford White. They again ran into him at Madison Square Garden's roof theater. During a song, "i Could Love a Million Girls," Thaw fired three shots point blank into White's face. Accounts differed as to whether Thaw said, "You ruined my life," or "You ruined my wife."
The Trial that followed was called "The Trial of Century." Thaw pleaded temporary insanity, and his mother promised Nesbit a quiet divorce with a million dollar settlement if Nesbit would testify that White had raped her. Nesbit and Thaw did divorce, but Nesbit never saw a dime. Many years later Nesbit indicated that "Stanny" was the only man she had ever loved.