Born: 1878, Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died: September 22, 1934, West End, Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Lived: Beauport, 75 Eastern Point Blvd, Gloucester, MA 01930, USA (42.59114, -70.66009)
Buried: Mount Auburn Cemetery
Find A Grave Memorial# 33029215
Henry Davis Sleeper was a noted antiquarian, collector, and interior decorator. The Harvard economist A. Piatt Andrew who had built a handsome summer mansion, Red Roof, on a rock ledge above the harbor, introduced Henry Sleeper to the Eastern Point in Gloucester, Massachusetts in the spring of 1906. Sleeper was much taken by the location and immediately decided to build a little further along the ledge from Red Roof. Construction of Beauport, Sleeper's relatively modestly scaled Arts and Crafts-style house began in the fall of 1907 and was sufficiently finished to receive A. Piatt Andrew as a houseguest in May 1908. Abram Piatt Andrew Jr. was a United States Representative from Massachusetts. Also Sleeper became the U.S. Representative, and a major fundraiser for the American Field Service, an ambulance corps founded by Andrew early during World War I. Sleeper died in Massachusetts General Hospital of leukemia on September 22, 1934 and is buried in his family's plot in Mount Auburn Cemetery located in Watertown and Cambridge, Massachusetts. Andrew wrote the memorial tribute published in the Gloucester Daily Times. A gay man, some source say that Sleeper was in a relationship with Andrew. Others state that the two were just friends.
Together from 1906 to 1934: 28 years.
Abram Piatt Andrew Jr. (February 12, 1873 – June 3, 1936)
Henry Davis Sleeper (March 27, 1878 - September 22, 1934)
Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time
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House: Beauport, also known as Sleeper-McCann House, Little Beauport, or Henry Davis Sleeper House, is a historic house in Gloucester, Massachusetts.
Address: 75 Eastern Point Blvd, Gloucester, MA 01930, USA (42.59114, -70.66009)
Hours: Tuesday to Saturday 10.00-17.00
Phone: +1 978-283-0800
National Register of Historic Places: 03000641, 2003 & 76000246, 1976. Also National Historic Landmarks.
Built starting in 1907
Beauport was the summer home of interior decorator and antique collector Henry Davis Sleeper. Situated on the rocks overlooking Gloucester Harbor, the structure was repeatedly enlarged and modified by Sleeper, and filled with a large collection of fine art, folk art, architectural artifacts, and other collectible materials. Sleeper decorated the (ultimately 56) rooms to evoke different historical and literary themes. After his death, Charles and Helena Woolworth McCann acquired the house and its contents. They preserved much of the Sleeper’s designs and decorations, but made some modifications, including adding their porcelain collection to the house. Their heirs donated the property to the Society for the Protection of New England Antiquities (now Historic New England) in 1947, who operate the property as a house museum. Beauport served as Sleeper’s escape, a backdrop for summer parties, and as a showcase for his professional skills. The house has frequently been written about in books and magazines, with the first major article appearing in House Beautiful in 1916. It has been featured in such diverse publications as Architectural Digest, Country Living, and The Boston Globe, and as been showcased on televisions programs such as America’s Castles. In addition to the main house, the property also has a gate house, garage, and toolshed that were built by Sleeper. The gate house has been adapted by Historic New England as a visitor reception area, and the toolshed now houses restrooms. The garage is used for storage and as office space. There is a single non-contributing building on the property, a caretaker’s house, which is potentially of local historic interest as an example of a prefabricated post- WWII residential structure.
Who: Henry Davis Sleeper (March 27, 1878 - September 22, 1934)
Henry Davis Sleeper was a nationally-noted antiquarian, collector, and interior decorator. He was grandson of Jacob Sleeper, one of the founders of Boston University as well as a clothier and manager of a real estate trust. Henry Sleeper was introduced to the Eastern Point in Gloucester, Massachusetts in the spring of 1906 by the Harvard economist A. Piatt Andrew (1873-1936) who had built a handsome summer mansion, Red Roof, on a rock ledge above the harbor. Sleeper was much taken by the location and immediately decided to build a little further along the ledge from Red Roof. Eastern Point was an enclave occupied by a somewhat louche group of "Bohemian" artists and intellectuals with frequent visits from some of the more colorful and unconventional members of Boston Society, in particular Isabella Stewart Gardner, the legendary art collector and builder of Fenway Court in the Back Bay Fens, now the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Construction of Beauport, Sleeper’s relatively modestly scaled Arts and Crafts-style house began in the fall of 1907 and was sufficiently finished to receive A. Piatt Andrew as a house guest in May 1908. As property flanking Sleeper’s became available, Beauport was expanded several times until 1925, often in response to events or important experiences in his life. The house was now not only a home but a major showcase for Sleeper’s interior design and decoration business. Clients could choose wallpapers, window treatments, or entire rooms to have reproduced in their own houses. Sleeper had a specialty in "Puritan Revival,” the Jacobean-American architecture and decorative arts of the original American colonies, but his tastes and interests included French decor of several centuries and a great deal of orientalia. Isabella Stewart Gardner commissioned work from him; Henry Francis du Pont engaged his assistance with the big new wing of the family’s massive house, Winterthur (5105 Kennett Pike, Wilmington, DE 19735), now a famed museum of American decorative arts; he designed for Hollywood stars Joan Crawford and Fredric March. Henry Davis Sleeper died in Massachusetts General Hospital of leukemia on September 22, 1934, and is buried in his family’s plot in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Watertown and Cambridge, Massachusetts. Andrew wrote the memorial tribute published in the Gloucester Daily Times. Sleeper had never married and left no direct descendants. Beauport passed to his brother Stephen whose real estate income was unequal to Henry’s debts. Beauport was sold to Helena Woolworth McCann who was contacted by Henry Francis Du Pont urging that Sleeper’s rooms remain exactly as they were as the value of the house and its collection of art objects depended primarily on their being left unchanged. Mrs McCann preserved the house as it was; at her death, the house was inherited by her daughters from whose hands it passed into the care of Historic New England in 1942.
Cemetery: Mount Auburn Cemetery is the first rural cemetery in the United States, located on the line between Cambridge and Watertown in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, 4 miles (6.4 km) west of Boston.
Address: 580 Mt Auburn St, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA (42.37479, -71.14449)
Hours: Monday through Sunday 8.00-19.00
Phone: +1 617-547-7105
National Register of Historic Places: 75000254, 1975. Also National Historic Landmarks.
With classical monuments set in a rolling landscaped terrain, Mount Auburn Cemetery marked a distinct break with Colonial-era burying grounds and church-affiliated graveyards. The appearance of this type of landscape coincides with the rising popularity of the term "cemetery,” derived from the Greek for "a sleeping place." This language and outlook eclipsed the previous harsh view of death and the afterlife embodied by old graveyards and church burial plots. The 174-acre (70 ha) cemetery is important both for its historical aspects and for its role as an arboretum. It is Watertown’s largest contiguous open space and extends into Cambridge to the east, adjacent to the Cambridge City Cemetery and Sand Banks Cemetery.
Notable queer burials are at Mount Auburn Cemetery:
• Roger Brown (1925–1997) (Location: Willow Pond Knoll, Lot 11000), professor at Harvard University from 1952 until 1957 and from 1962 until 1994, and at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) from 1957 until 1962. During his time at the University of Michigan, he met Albert Gilman, later a Shakespeare scholar and a professor of English at Boston University. Gilman and Brown were partners for over 40 years until Gilman's death from lung cancer in 1989. Brown's sexual orientation and his relationship with Gilman were known to a few of his closest friends, and he served on the editorial board of The Journal of Homosexuality from 1985, but he did not come out publicly until 1989. Brown chronicled his personal life with Gilman and after Gilman's death in his memoir. Brown died in 1997, and is buried next to Gilman (Location: Willow Pond Knoll, Lot 11000).
• Katharine Ellis Coman (1857-1915), author on economic subjects who lived with Katharine Lee Bates (Author of "America the Beautiful"), and died at her home, was cremated at Mount Auburn Cemetery but was buried with her parents at Cedar Hill Cemetery, Newark, Ohio.
• Charlotte Cushman (1816–1876) (Location: Palm Avenue, Lot 4236), actress, her last partner was lesbian sculptor Emma Stebbins, who sculpted Angels of the Water on Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, New York City.
• Martha May Eliot (1891–1978), was a foremost pediatrician and specialist in public health, an assistant director for WHO, and an architect of New Deal and postwar programs for maternal and child health. She was a scion of the Eliot family, an influential American family that is regarded as one of the Boston Brahmins, originating in Boston, whose ancestors became wealthy and held sway over the American education system in the late XIX and early XX centuries. Her father, Christopher Rhodes Eliot, was a Unitarian minister, and her grandfather, William G. Eliot, was the first chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis. The poet, playwright, critic, and Nobel laureate T.S. Eliot was her first cousin. During undergraduate study at Bryn Mawr College she met Ethel Collins Dunham, who was to become her life partner. She was cremated at Mount Auburn but buried elsewhere.
• Mary Katherine Keemle "Kate" Field (1838-1896), American journalist, lecturer, and actress, of eccentric talent. She was the daughter of actors Joseph M. Field and Eliza Riddle. Kate Field never married. In October 1860, while visiting his mother's home in Florence, she met the celebrated British novelist Anthony Trollope. She became one of his closest friends and was the subject of Trollope's high esteem. Trollope scholars have speculated on the nature of their warm friendship. Twenty-four of his letters to Kate survive, at the Boston Public Library; hers to Trollope do not.
• Annie Adams Fields (1834–1915) (Location: Elder Path, Lot 2700), author and hostess; wife of James Thomas Fields, later companion to Sarah Orne Jewett.
• Isabella Stewart Gardner (1840–1924) (Location: Oxalis Path, Lot 2900) was a leading American art collector, philanthropist, and patron of the arts. She founded the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.
• Charles Hammond Gibson, Jr. (1874–1954) (Location: Sweetbrier Path, Lot 472), Boston writer and bachelor bon vivant, best known for having preserved his family's Beacon Street home as a museum of Victorian style and taste. “The Wounded Eros,” a short documentary film by Todd Gernes, explores the aesthetic relationship between Gibson's literary production and the material culture contexts of his museum and library, set within the social history of turn-of-the-century gay Boston. He had an enduring relationship with the eccentric self-styled "Count" Maurice de Mauny Talvande.
• Harriet Goodhue Hosmer (1830-1908) (Location: Hemlock Path, Lot 3747), sculptor. She was devoted for 25 years to Lady Ashburton, widow of Bingham Baring, 2nd Baron Ashburton (died 1864). Lady Ashburton was born Louisa Caroline Stewart-Mackenzie, youngest daughter of James Alexander Stewart-Mackenzie. Hosmer was good friend with Charlotte Cushman and Matilda Hays, Cushman’s partner, left Charlotte for her.
• Alice James (1848-1892) (in the nearby Cambridge Cemetery), American diarist. The only daughter of Henry James, Sr. and sister of psychologist and philosopher William James and novelist Henry James, she is known mainly for the posthumously published diary that she kept in her final years. Her companion was Katherine Peabody Loring and from their relationship it was conied the term “Boston Marriage”.
• Henry James (1843-1916) (in the nearby Cambridge Cemetery), American writer. He is regarded as one of the key figures of XIX century literary realism. He was the son of Henry James, Sr. and the brother of philosopher and psychologist William James and diarist Alice James.
• Amy Lowell (1874–1925) (Location: Bellwort Path, Lot 3401), poet of the imagist school from Brookline, Massachusetts, who posthumously won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1926.
• Abby Adeline Manning (1836-1906) (Location: Thistle Path, Lot 709), painter, and her partner, Anne Whitney (1821-1915), poet and sculptor, together.
• Stewart Mitchell (1892–1957) (Location: Walnut Avenue, Lot 7108) was an American poet, editor, and professor of English literature. Along with Gilbert Seldes, Mitchell’s editorship of The Dial magazine signaled a pivotal shift in content from political articles to aesthetics in art and literature. In 1929 he became the editor of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Richard Cowan (1909-1939)’s diary, which he started while he was a student at Cornell, chronicles the life of a young gay man in Boston in the 1930s. Cowan committed suicide at the age of thirty. His forty-seven-year old mentor and long-term lover, Stewart Mitchell, was devastated. Mitchell resigned as president of the Massachusetts Historical Society on account of a “personal misfortune,” and wrote a friend, “There is no running away from a broken heart.” According to the Boston Herald Nov. 9, 1957: “Mitchell directed that the urn containing his mortal remains be buried, “but not in winter,” in the lot “where my dear friends Georgine Holmes Thomas and Richard David Cowan now repose”.”
• Francis Williams Sargent (1848-1920) (Location: Pilgrim Path, Lot 4141) and Jane Welles Hunnewell Sargent (1851-1936), Margarett Williams Sargent’s parents. Margarett Sargent (1892-1978) was born into the privileged world of old Boston money; she was a distant relative of John Singer Sargent.
• Henry Davis Sleeper (1878-1934) (Location: Willow Avenue, Lot 453), a nationally-noted antiquarian, collector, and interior decorator, who had a long lasting friendship with A. Piatt Andrew, an economist, an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, the founder and director of the American Ambulance Field Service during WWI, and a United States Representative from Massachusetts.
Queer Places, Vol. 1.2: Retracing the Steps of LGBTQ people around the World Authored by Elisa Rolle
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