From Beauport to Fenway Court: A. Piatt Andrew, Henry Davis Sleeper, Isabella Stewart Gardner and Leslie Buswell

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Jun 14 @ 10:00 am - Jun 20 @ 5:00 pm

80 Hesperus Ave
Gloucester, MA


Jun 14 @ 10:00 am
Jun 20 @ 5:00 pm
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Hammond Castle
80 Hesperus Ave
Gloucester, MA 01930 United States
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Most modern Gloucester residents know Congressman Abram Piatt Andrew (b.1873- d. 1936) best as the namesake for the Route 128 bridge which was built in 1953, 17 years after his death, and is one of only three land routes that connect the City to the rest of Cape Ann. Yet during the first decades of the 20th century, Andrew was one of the North Shore’s most important citizens, a mentor, economics professor, and later political opponent of future US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and the enclave Andrew built on Gloucester’s Eastern Point had a singularly transformative effect both literally and culturally on the landscape of America’s oldest seaport.

By the time a 22-year-old John Hays Hammond Jr. established his first laboratory at his parent’s Lookout Hill summer estate in 1910, Andrew had already established a commune across the bay including the artists Cecilia Beaux and John Singer Sargent, the interior designer Henry Davis Sleeper, and, the eccentric Boston socialite Isabella Stewart Gardner, whose home Fenway Court—now the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum—was a major inspiration for Hammond’s own Abbadia Mare—now the Hammond Castle Museum. The precise sexuality of many of the figures in this circle, as well as the precise relationships between its individual members, has long been a matter of public speculation. One particular connection is explicit: the long-term romantic relationship between Hammond and the English actor Leslie Buswell (b.1887-d.1965), a favorite of Gardner, who lived with Hammond for over a decade at the inventor’s “Bungalow” home on the Lookout Hill estate and managed his laboratory during its most productive period. Buswell was also instrumental in the construction of Hammond Castle Museum between 1926 and 1929.

This mini-exhibit focuses on contextualizing Hammond’s relationship with Buswell as a part of a larger local community of Queer figures, including Andrew and Sleeper. Using newly digitized correspondence between Hammond and Buswell, visitors can, for the first time, get an understanding of the nature of these historical Queer relationships in the words of two men who were part of one, as well as a better understanding of an important aspect of local Queer history.