Partner John "Jack" Hammond

Queer Places:
Winchester College, College St, Winchester SO23 9NA, UK
University Of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2, UK
Stillington Hall, 32 Stillington Dr, Gloucester, MA 01930

Leslie Buswell (1890 - October 13, 1964) was a past commander in chief of the Military Order of the World Wars.

Buswell was born in Richmond, England. He was educated at Winchester School and Caius College, Cambridge University. He came to the United States as an actor.

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.

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's father was an associate of Cecil Rhodes and very wealthy while Hammond, a noted inventor, went to Yale and then opened a workshop on his Gloucester estate. He 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.

Hammond’s landmark quite eclipsed Stillington, the English manor house built nearby by Buswell. Buswell, a Winchester- and Cambridge-educated Britisher, as well as an actor on his first American tour in 1914, had caught Isabella Stewart Gardner’s eye (and Andrew’s, too) and was a Bostonian forever after. After he and Hammond met in the fall of 1914, by early 1915 Buswell had gave up the stage to join Hammond.

During World War I Buswell was an ambulance driver for the American Field Service. His letters home were published in a book, "Ambulance No. 10."

After the war, Buswell engaged in research in electronics in Gloucester. In the 1920s he built a home in the style of a 16th Century English manor house, overlooking Gloucester harbor, with a 200-seat theater beside it.

During World War II Buswell served overseas in the United States Air Force. He became a colonel, and was awarded the Bronze Star and other decorations, including the French Croix de Guerre.

He married Mary Armstrong Robinson of Pittsburgh and had one son, Peter Croft Buswell of New York.

He died on October 13, 1964, of a heart attack at his home, Stillington Hall (interior design by Henry Davis Sleeper). He was 76 years old.


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