Alice DeLamar

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Alice DeLamar, 1927

Alice DeLamar (April 23, 1895 – August 31, 1983) was the lesbian[1] heiress to Joseph Raphael De Lamar.[2] She was a relatively important supporter of the arts,[3] helping fund plays by Mercedes de Acosta.[1] DeLamar also donated some of her land in Palm Beach, Florida to the Audubon Society in the 1960s.[4]

Early life[edit]

Joseph Raphael De Lamar House at Madison Avenue and 37th Street in Manhattan, now the Polish Consulate

DeLamar was born April 23, 1895, in New York City to Joseph Raphael De Lamar and Nellie Sands.[2][5] She was their only child. The DeLamars had a mansion in New York City and an estate on Glen Cove on Long Island called Pennbrook[6] or Pembroke.[7] After she was born the family moved to Paris, where she lived until she and her father moved back to New York City in 1900. Late in the 1900s, DeLamar was put into the Spence School by her godfather, William Nelson Cromwell.[8] Her parents divorced in 1910,[6] and her father gained custody of her.[7] She had a half-sister, Consuelo Hatmaker, from her mother and her second husband, James Hatmaker.[9]

After she graduated from the Spence School, DeLamar and Evangeline Johnson, one of her schoolmates, volunteered for the Red Cross Motor Corps in Europe during World War I.[8] Joseph Raphael De Lamar, Alice DeLamar's father, died December 1, 1918, making her the inheritor of $10 million (equivalent to $162,699,115 in 2017)[8][10] and was subsequently called the richest bachelor girl in the United States.[9] Preferring a simpler life, she eschewed the family mansion for a Park Avenue apartment following her father's death.[6]

Career[edit]

Philanthropy[edit]

DeLamar was a patron of the arts and supported the careers of architects, artists, choreographers and writers, but she often preferred to remain anonymous when making financial donations.[11] She commissioned Ida Tarbell to write a book about architect Addison Mizner, that was illustrated by photographs of Frank Geisler, when Mizner was experiencing financial difficulties. She oversaw the work, including selecting images for the book.[11]

She supported environmental and social organizations. In 1969, she donated the land to the Aspetuck Land Trust for the 21-acre Stonebridge Waterfowl Preserve in Weston, Connecticut.[12]

Worth Avenue Gallery, located at 347 Worth Avenue, Palm Beach, Florida, was the site of an art gallery owned by DeLamar.

Business[edit]

Beginning in 1936, she operated a restaurant in Weston, the Cobbs Mill Inn,[12] where members of the arts dined.[11] She purchased and renovated properties along Newtown Turnpike near her home in Connecticut that she then leased out to artists that she encouraged.[9][13] In Palm Beach, Florida, she opened the Worth Avenue Gallery in 1942. It was an art gallery that promoted the works of up-and-coming artists.[14]

Personal life[edit]

The rear of Alice DeLamar's Connecticut estate, Stonebrook

DeLamar lived at the estate named Stonebrook, located in Weston, that she had built in the 1930s.[12][13] Her visitors included Dave Brubeck, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Salvador Dalí, Eva Le Gallienne, and George Balanchine.[13] On this estate, she had a pool built that includes a tunnel leading from the basement. It is rumored that this was so she could swim in the nude without fear of being seen or the need to walk outside.[citation needed]

Royal Palm Memorial Gardens, West Palm Beach, Florida

She also had a house in Palm Beach, Florida along the ocean; a townhouse in Paris that was previously owned by Gerald Murphy; and an apartment at 530 Park Avenue in New York.[11]

For six decades, DeLamar was Eva Le Gallienne's lover and financial supporter.[15] She backed plays[1] and she is believed to have provided funding for the Civic Repertory Theatre established by Le Gallienne in New York City.[16]

While seeking treatment for liver cancer, DeLamar hit her head when she fell in the South Norwalk hospital, which led to her death. Her remains were cremated and buried in West Palm Beach. A large portion of her estate went to Harvard, Columbia, and Johns Hopkins Universities, in accordance with her father's will.[10][11] La Gallienne received $1 million[15] or a quarter of her estate,[17] including the land and house that DeLamar purchased for her.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Kim Marra; Robert A. Schanke (2002). Staging Desire: Queer Readings of American Theater History. University of Michigan Press. p. 91. ISBN 0-472-06749-4. 
  2. ^ a b Wayne Craven (2009). Gilded Mansions: Grand Architecture and High Society. W.W. Norton & Company. p. 354. ISBN 978-0-393-06754-5. 
  3. ^ David Leddick (24 November 2015). Intimate Companions: A Triography of George Platt Lynes, Paul Cadmus, Lincoln Kirstein, and Their Circle. St. Martin's Press. p. 277. ISBN 978-1-250-10478-6. 
  4. ^ James D. Snyder (30 December 2013). A Visitor’s Guide to Jonathan Dickinson State Park. BookBaby. p. 32. ISBN 978-1-61850-029-8. 
  5. ^ Robert A Schanke (7 March 2007). Angels in the American Theater: Patrons, Patronage, and Philanthropy. SIU Press. p. 56. ISBN 978-0-8093-8743-4. 
  6. ^ a b c Alfred Pommer; Joyce Pommer (5 November 2013). Exploring Manhattan's Murray Hill. Arcadia Publishing Incorporated. p. PT77. ISBN 978-1-62584-515-3. 
  7. ^ a b "The $10,000,000 Heiress Who Runs Herself". The Washington Times. December 11, 1921. p. 3 – via Chronically America, Library of Congress. 
  8. ^ a b c Addison Mizner (17 January 2013). Florida Architecture of Addison Mizner. Courier Corporation. pp. 12–13. ISBN 978-0-486-14202-9. 
  9. ^ a b c "Why the Richest Bachelor Girl Became a Landlady". The Philadelphia Inquirer. May 16, 1937. p. 117. Retrieved July 19, 2017 – via newspapers.com. (Subscription required (help)). 
  10. ^ a b Dominion Law Reports. Canada Law Book Company. 1922. pp. 251–252. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f "Palm Beach Social History". New York Social Diary. April 23, 2009. Retrieved July 18, 2017. 
  12. ^ a b c "Weston: Stonebridge Preserve". Aspetuck Land Trust. Retrieved July 18, 2017. 
  13. ^ a b c Patricia Gay (May 8, 2015). "Weston Historical Society house tour: Public gets glimpse of landmark homes". Retrieved July 19, 2017. 
  14. ^ Augustus Mayhew (April 23, 2011). "Unforgettable Palm Beach: Early gallery owners, patrons ushered in art explosion". Palm Beach Daily News. 
  15. ^ a b Susan Ware (2004). Notable American Women: A Biographical Dictionary Completing the Twentieth Century. Harvard University Press. p. 378. ISBN 978-0-674-01488-6. 
  16. ^ "This Month in Theatre History". American Theatre. November 7, 2016. Retrieved July 19, 2017. 
  17. ^ Robert A Schanke (2007). Angels in the American Theater: Patrons, Patronage, and Philanthropy. SIU Press. p. 70. ISBN 978-0-8093-2747-8. 

Further reading[edit]

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