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Rose Selfridge: The Inspirational Life of a Visionary Woman

CEO Tinh Phung
Benjamin Hale Buckingham, father of Rose Selfridge. Rosalie Amelia Selfridge, known as Rose, was not just the wife of department store magnate Harry Gordon Selfridge. She was a property developer, a philanthropist, and a woman...

Rose Selfridge Benjamin Hale Buckingham, father of Rose Selfridge.

Rosalie Amelia Selfridge, known as Rose, was not just the wife of department store magnate Harry Gordon Selfridge. She was a property developer, a philanthropist, and a woman of great influence. Born into the wealthy Buckingham family of Chicago, Rose inherited a vast amount of property and established herself as a successful businesswoman before her marriage. Her story is a testament to the power of determination and resilience. In this article, we will explore the fascinating life of Rose Selfridge, a woman who left an indelible mark on history.

Early Life and Education

Rose Selfridge Rose Selfridge, the visionary woman herself.

Rose was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1860. She grew up in a privileged environment, with her family's wealth affording her opportunities for education and travel. Her father, Benjamin Hale Buckingham, was part of a successful family business that revolutionized grain warehousing in Chicago. Despite the early loss of her father, Rose and her family continued to live comfortably.

During her teenage years, Rose embarked on a journey through Europe, immersing herself in different cultures and expanding her knowledge. A talented harpist, Rose captivated audiences with her beautiful music. She was admired for her generosity, often using her musical talent for charitable causes. Rose's passion for art, culture, and education shaped her into a well-rounded individual.

Love, Marriage, and Entrepreneurship

Harry Gordon Selfridge Harry Gordon Selfridge, Rose's loving husband.

At the age of 30, Rose met the ambitious retail executive Harry Selfridge. Their shared determination and entrepreneurial spirit drew them together, and in 1890, they tied the knot. Rose had already established herself as a skilled property developer, having inherited both money and expertise from her family. Her visionary mindset led her to create a row of elegant homes known as the Rosalie Villas in Hyde Park, Chicago. These homes, designed to perfection, remain a testament to her architectural prowess.

Rose and Harry lived a lavish lifestyle, surrounded by opulence and surrounded by art and beauty. They shared a passion for horticulture, with Rose excelling in the cultivation of orchids. Her expertise in this field earned her the admiration and respect of many. Their home, Harrose Hall, epitomized their love for nature and beauty. Complete with grand greenhouses and extensive rose gardens, it was a sanctuary of tranquility.

A Life in London and Philanthropic Endeavors

Rose Selfridge Rose Selfridge, graceful and elegant.

In 1907, Harry's ambition led them to London, where he built his iconic department store on Oxford Street. Rose embraced this new chapter with grace and elegance, immersing herself in British society. She attended numerous social functions, rubbing shoulders with the English aristocracy. Her appreciation for French culture was recognized by the French government, which awarded her the Order of the Golden Palms.

Despite her new life in London, Rose missed her family and home in Chicago. She made regular visits to her sister, Anna, to bridge the distance. Rose's children received an exemplary education, immersing themselves in art, dance, and languages. She spared no effort in ensuring their future success.

A Woman of Compassion and Resilience

Rose's Convalescent Hospital Rose's Convalescent Hospital at Highcliffe Castle.

When World War I broke out, Rose's compassionate nature led her to join the Red Cross. Alongside her two eldest daughters, she worked at Christchurch Hospital, caring for wounded soldiers. Her dedication and empathy made a lasting impact on those she touched.

In 1916, Harry rented Highcliffe Castle as their country estate. Rose took the opportunity to open a convalescent hospital for American soldiers. Her commitment to creating a nurturing environment for these brave men was praised by many. The camp, equipped with all the necessary facilities, provided a haven for soldiers to recover and heal.

Honoring Rose's Legacy

Rose Selfridge and her family Rose Selfridge and her family (Top row: Beatrice, Rose; Bottom row: Gordon, Rosalie).

Tragically, in 1918, Rose fell victim to the Spanish flu pandemic and passed away from pneumonia. Her funeral was held at St. Mark's Church in Highcliffe, where she was laid to rest. Harry, devastated by the loss of his beloved wife, continued the work at the convalescent camp in her honor.

Rose Selfridge's story is one of inspiration and resilience. From her successful career in property development to her philanthropic endeavors, she embodied the values of compassion, creativity, and dedication. Her legacy lives on, and her impact is still felt today.