Born in Berlin, Germany in 1894, George B. Henderson was the third of six children. He grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts and spent his summers in Dublin, N.H., where his father, Ernst Flagg Henderson, wrote history books. George’s grandfather, John Cleaves Symmes Henderson, earned his fortune from investing in manufacturing and the New York City real estate business. When he passed away, George’s father, although a child of 12, received a rather large inheritance. Thanks to this fortune, George was able to travel and study many languages and cultures. He attended Harvard University and the University of Wisconsin at Madison. George also served in the U.S. Army as Captain with the 83rd Division in France. It is very likely that he had personal conflicts with the hostilities happening in WWI because of the years he spent in Germany as a child. However, he never shared his feelings publicly.
During his late twenties, George entered into banking, together with his brother Ernest Henderson, and he founded the “Henderson Brothers Bankers and Foreign Exchange.” By the end of the 1930s, the two brothers owned a large portion of the Sheraton hotel chain. This contributed to many opportunities for leisure. George lived most of his life in Beacon Hill, Boston and spent his summers in Marblehead, Massachusetts. He had an interest in yachting, and also became a great baseball fan. Although he never married, he was in a relationship for most of his life.
George became interested in donating his fortune to the public. He enjoyed science and technology and therefore gave large amounts to the Boston Museum of Science. However, he left most of his fortune to the George B. Henderson Foundation. After his business partner and brother died in 1967, the City of Boston contacted him regarding funding for a memorial fountain in a Copley Square Park renovation project. George agreed to provide the necessary funding. As he became more involved with the project, he came to realize that improving the visual environment of his home city addressed several of his life interests and objectives. That project, without doubt, influenced his desires and plans for his will.