Partner Leslie Buswell

Queer Places:
Yale University (Ivy League), 38 Hillhouse Ave, New Haven, CT 06520
Hammond Castle Museum, 80 Hesperus Ave, Gloucester, MA 01930

Image result for John Hays HammondJohn Hays Hammond Jr. (April 13, 1888 – February 12, 1965) was an American inventor known as "The Father of Radio Control". Hammond’s pioneering developments in electronic remote control are the foundation for all modern radio remote control devices, including modern missile guidance systems, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and the unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAVs). Of Hammond’s many individual inventions, the inventions which have seen the most significant application are the variable pitch or controlled pitch propellers and single dial radio tuning.[1][2][3] He was the son of mining engineer John Hays Hammond, Sr..

Born in San Francisco, California, his family moved to South Africa and the Transvaal in 1893. His father was active as a mining engineer for Cecil Rhodes' mines in South Africa. In 1898, the family moved to England, where young Hammond fell in love with castles and life in earlier times. The family returned to the United States at the turn of the 20th century.

At the age of twelve, Hammond accompanied his father on a business trip to Thomas Edison’s laboratory in West Orange, New Jersey. Upon being introduced to Edison, the boy asked so many questions that the inventor gave him a personal tour of the complex and assumed the role of mentor. The two would remain in contact for the rest of Edison’s life. While studying at the Sheffield Scientific School of Yale University, Hammond became interested in the new study of radio waves and he was taken under the wing of Alexander Graham Bell. Bell also became his mentor and the two would remain close friends until Bell’s death.

A. Piatt Andrew had been the leading light of a clearly homosexual circle since his graduate student days at Harvard in the 1890s, when he first caught the eye of Isabella Stewart Gardner, soon to become his close friend and adviser. Settling in Gloucester on Boston’s North Shore in 1900, he and a small but scintillating group of gay men and their lady friends—the latter including most notably Gardner and also portraitist Cecilia Beaux—created a discreet but intense bohemian enclave on Eastern Point. It was called Dabsville, a cryptogram of Sleeper’s for New York intellectual Joanna Stewart Davidge, Andrew, Beaux, the Philadelphia art patron Caroline Sinkler, and Sleeper, all of whom built adjoining houses on the point. At its heart were four men and another cryptogram. (“What acronymic antics they engaged in, those four,” wrote Joseph Garland of the male foursome: “Buswell, Andrew, Sleeper, Hammond—what BASHes!”) Author Andrew Gray described Dabsville this way: Sleeper, Beaux and Andrew ran the show … . Andrew [was] the king pin. The nucleus they formed … expanded to absorb people according to their wit, good looks, vivacity and capacity for self-dramatization … . They all drank very little—most worked rather hard, even when playing … .They were very hospitable to outsiders—Leslie Buswell and Jack Hammond among others—but surely rather snobbish toward people less verbally adept than they. They were very private people. The key … was the absence of children. No sailing, no nonsense, no preoccupation with childish things.

Yale University, New Haven, CT

After graduation from Yale in 1910, Hammond took a job in the U.S. Patent Office. His strategy was simple: having learned from Edison that "inventing had to be a money-making proposition, where better to learn what fields were up-and-coming than in the Patent Office?" After he became an authority on the patent process, he founded the Hammond Radio Research Laboratory on his father’s estate in Gloucester, Massachusetts. In total, he is credited with more than 800 foreign and domestic patents on more than 400 inventions (the exact number of inventions is vague due to how credit was listed on the forms) mostly in the fields of radio control and naval weaponry.

Two close friends of Henry Davis Sleeper and A. Piatt Andrew, John "Jack" Hammond and Leslie Buswell, met at Red Roof in the fall of 1914. They were immediately a couple. "Buswell is very fond of Jack, and fascinated by his genius, and J. is intensely spellbound by him," wrote Sleeper to Andrew. With Europe rushing to begin WWI, Sleeper was worried that the England born Buswell would have to be separated from Hammond if he was called to serve in his homeland's military. Buswell was an actor who eventually have up his career to manage Hammond's growing business. He lived with Hammond for several years before building his own estate next door and in 1928 he married and fathered a son. Hammond married in 1925.

Although Henry Davis Sleeper, partial to Leslie Buswell, was himself always passionately loyal to A. Piatt Andrew, there are hints that Sleeper’s dogged devotion sometimes seemed suffocating to Andrew. Equally, according to Sleeper’s letters to Andrew, John Hays Hammond was “spellbound” by Buswell, while Buswell is described as “fond” of Hammond—though “fascinated by his genius.” Buswell, it seems, if he tried to hide his attraction to Andrew (at whose house he had met Hammond), did not entirely succeed. Hammond was “jealous of [Andrew’s] lure—& fears it,” Sleeper once wrote to Andrew, thereby doubtless hinting at fears of his own as well. At least he and Andrew never married anyone else. Both Hammond and Buswell did.

After his controversial marriage to artist-editor Irene Fenton in 1925 Hammond began to erect, across Gloucester Harbor from Eastern Point, a Hollywood-style extravaganza of a castle, Aba Mair: Hammond’s Castle, everyone else called it, noting its towered stone silhouette and the medieval details on the interior, including whole façades that Hammond bought in Europe and had shipped to this country. Hammond’s landmark quite eclipsed Stillington, the English manor house built nearby by Buswell.

Hammond served on the Board of Directors of RCA and a listing of his professional colleagues and society friends reads like a Who’s Who of the rich and famous. Aside from his inherited wealth, his inventions brought Hammond an additional fortune. Between the years 1926 and 1929, he built a castle (including a drawbridge) which became his home, laboratory, and a showplace for his collection of Roman, medieval, and Renaissance artifacts. Hammond was also interested in the mechanism and workings of the pipe organ, and had a huge organ installed in the castle's Great Hall. Famous organists, including Richard Ellsasser and Virgil Fox, performed and made commercial recordings on this instrument, unfortunately no longer in operating condition (2015). Overlooking Gloucester Harbor in the North Shore region of Massachusetts, Hammond Castle is now a museum which offers self-guided tours throughout half the year and hosts fundraising events on a regular basis.[4][5]

A biography of John Hays Hammond Jr. entitled Living in the Past, Looking to the Future (2004) was written by John Dandola. Hammond also appears as a character (and his castle is featured) in several of Dandola’s mystery novels which are set during World War II.

Hammond was awarded the Edward Longstreth Medal from The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1959.

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