Partner Katherine Teats

Queer Places:
Ballard Park, 6466 Main St, Westport, NY 12993
Westport Library Association, 6 Harris Ln, Westport, NY 12993
Ledge Hill Brewing Company (formerly Westport Mountain Springs), 6700 Main St, Westport, NY 12993
Westport Country Club, 47 Country Club Way, Westport, NY 12993
Colonial Cottage, Congress St, Westport, NY 12993
Lee and Teats Cottages, 3574 7th Ave, San Diego, CA 92103, Stati Uniti
Hillside Cemetery, Westport, NY, Stati Uniti

Image result for Alice Lee 1943Alice Lee (May 27, 1853 - February 18, 1943) and her long-time partner Katherine Teats (died in 1952) were important in the early 20th century San Diego social scene, entertaining two U.S. presidents at their home.

Alice Lee was born on May 27, 1853, in Westport, New York, the daughter of Colonel Francis L. Lee (1823-1886) and Sarah Mary Anne Wilson. She was the second cousin of Theodore Roosevelt's wife, Alice Hathaway Lee.[1]

Lee was educated in Boston, where the family spent the winters.

Lee was always passionate about the Progressive movement, and other than Theodore Roosevelt, she was friends with Florence Nightingale, Ralph Waldo Emerson and the family of Amos Bronson Alcott.

In 1887 Alice Lee purchased Marvin House and transformed the house and the surrounding property into a pleasure grounds. She had unsightly buildings on Main Street removed, along with tenements down by the lake left by the Lake Champlain Ore and Iron Company. She hired a series of managers who spent the next decade revising the structure so thoroughly that nothing remained of the Marvin House. They added a dining hall with rooms above, a grand verandah wrapping around three sides of the building, and a music and dance hall. Additional "cottages" were added to the property, along with a boathouse on the lake shore, gardens, tennis and croquet courts, the 6-hole Westport Golf Links up above Congress Street and the annex on the other side of Main Street. Opened as the Westport Inn, was a lively and glamorous hotel for eighty years, from 1887 to 1966, when it was demolished, catering to wealthy families who could afford to come for a week, a month, or the entire season. Alice Lee’s brother, Thomas Lee, had pipes laid to bring water from Mountain Spring, at the edge of the Iron Ore Tract down to the hotel. Thomas Lee bottled the water for sale to hotel guests. The waterworks eventually grew into the town water supply. Lee sold the property to Harry P. Smith in the early 1900s.[2]

Lee assisted the fund-raising efforts for both the Westport Library (1888) and the Cutting Memorial Hall addition (1907).[3]

Lee moved to San Diego in 1902 for health reasons and became friends with the Marston family, and through them she became involved with the Progressive movement in San Diego.

Lee joined various organizations in San Diego including the First Unitarian Church, the Wednesday Club, the Civic Committee of the Chamber of Commerce, and other local civic and cultural groups.

She was the President of the San Diego Museum, Honorary Director of the Women’s Civic Center, Director of the Natural History Museum, President of the Balboa Park Auditorium Association, and President of the Balboa Park Commission.

She founded the group Open Forum, a public forum to openly talk about social, political, and international issues, by 1935 the "oldest continuous non-legislative forum of free public discussion in the United States"; it was disbanded in the 1970s.

She campaigned for Theodore Roosevelt in 1932. She was recognized by the Progressive Party by being chosen to represent California at the National Convention for the Progressive Party in Chicago.

She led the "Save the Beaches" campaign in San Diego which resulted in the city acquiring miles of beach for public use and was instrumental in developing the public playground system.

Alice Lee was close friends with both the wife of Grover Cleveland, Frances Folsom Cleveland Preston, and that of Theodore Roosevelt, Alice Hathaway Lee Roosevelt, and was often a guest at the White House. Theodore Roosevelt and his wife Alice Hathaway Lee Roosevelt, and Frances Folsom Cleveland Preston were often guests at Lee's San Diego home at 7th Ave.

Alice Lee Cottage, San Diego, CA

Alice Lee House, San Diego, CA

Katherine Teats Cottage, San Diego, CA

Lee lived together with Katherine Teats from 1902 to 1943, when Lee died. In 1905 they commissioned to Hazel Waterman, under the supervision of Irving Gill, three residences in San Diego, Alice Lee Residence at 3574 7th Ave, Katherine Teats Cottage at 3560 7th Ave and Alice Lee Cottage at 3578 7th Ave. The compound shared a garden designed by botanist and landscape architect Kate Sessions. Lee and Teats lived in the main house and used the other two for rentals. Teats continued to live at Teats Cottage, a Prairie-style house which Lee granted to her in 1906, until she died in 1952.

That of Alice Lee and Katherine Teats is said to be one of the first documented domestic partnerships in San Diego having been listed under the same household in many Census records and in 1930 Alice Lee was listed as Head of Household while Katherine Teats was listed as Partner. Together they managed several investment properties throughout San Diego, were highly involved in various organizations throughout San Diego, and were said to be generally accepted for their lifestyle.[4]

Lee died on February 18, 1943, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was spending the winter, and is buried at Hillside Cemetery, Westport.

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See my published books


  1. ^ cite book|last1=Binheim|first1=Max|last2=Elvin|first2=Charles A|title=Women of the West; a series of biographical sketches of living eminent women in the eleven western states of the United States of America|date=1928|page=60|url=|accessdate=8 August 2017PD-notice
  2. ^ cite web|title=Glimpses into the Past|url=|website=westportny|accessdate=30 December 2017
  3. ^ cite web|title=Walking Tour of Westport, New York|url=|website=westportny|accessdate=30 December 2017PD-notice
  4. ^ cite web|title=ITEM 17 – Alice Lee/ Hazel Waterman House|url=|website=The City of San Diego - Historical Resource Board|accessdate=30 December 2017PD-notice