Weston, Conn.

UnknownWhen Alice De Lamar came to Weston she bought every property along the river from the Three Bears Inn to Cobb’s Mill. She rented the houses  at a low rate to people she wanted around her, in essence creating a sprawling artists’ community which thrived for a time. She kept her huge swimming pool open to all her neighbors.

Alice lived off the income of her real estate sales, and over the years she sold off her land. Her community got smaller and smaller, and when she died,  all that remained were the houses most immediately around Stone Brook.

Alice had many lesbian love affairs, at a time in history when such relationships were not made public in the tabloids. The artists, actors, dancers, and musicians — many of them gay, lesbian, or bisexual — came to Alice’s community because knew they would find privacy.

Weston (Conn.): Sites-Historical; Weston (Conn.): 1900-1949 Cobbs Mill Inn was originally operated as a sawmill, gristmill, and cider mill. In 1913 Frank Cobb, editor-in-chief of the old New York World magazine, purchased the mill and used it as a weekend and summer retreat. Upon his death, Mrs. Cobb sold the property to Moira Wallace and Sydney Dyke and they started to accept overnight guests. The Depression took its toll on the two women and they sold the property to Alice Delamar, patron of the arts, in 1934. With Jacques DeWolfe she converted the inn into an eating and drinking establishment. She purchased a 26-foot pewter bar that was salvaged from the Normandy, a French steamship built in the 1880s, and hired one of the areas finest chefs. With its spectacular view of a pond and a waterfall, it was the perfect place to go for special evenings steeped in history.
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5 thoughts on “Weston, Conn.

  1. I looked her up because from 1946 until around 1951 my parents my 2 brothers and I lived in a rented house near her huge residence, owned by Mary Benson (Mrs. but perhaps one of ALice’s “good friends” at the time. We snuck into the pool and were reported! Alice was in Europe of course…so interesting to read about her, thanks to a reference to her in Bemelman’s “My Life in Art.” He had rented from her in Paris. I know or knew Weston nd that area well, back in the 50’s until I went off to France and then college in 1955. Thank you, internet.

    • Thanks for posting! This blog is kind of dormant, but now and then, someone writes. I became interested in Alice when my daughter became friends with the kids of the current owners of Stone Brook. Alice seems most famous for the company she kept, and through researching her life, I came across many other topics to write about for magazines — most recently, “Lost and Found: Eyre De Lanux” for Weston Magazine Group.

      And yes, Mary Benson, or Mimsy, was indeed a lover at one point, and remained a lifelong friend of Alice. I believe that the bust of Alice in the Weston library today is by Mary’s husband Stuart Benson.

      The famous pool at Stone Brook remains, along with the “secret passage” leading from the house to the pool! Local kids enjoy swimming there, and the very generous owners often host pre-prom parties with great photo sessions.
      Liz

  2. Well, your reply was equally interesting. Wish that pool had been open to us when I graduated Staples on Sr.Prom night.
    I went back once to look at the hosue we had rened, on the corner of Notjfield, Newtown…woods all over scros the way en route to …Red Mill Inn. I walked in the woods there after school so often. We used to walk to school but it wasn’t far (Hurlbutt, now a massive …something or other) and I never did meet Mrs. Benson. It was readingBemelmanns, autobiographical books “My Life in Art,” that casued me to look up De Lamar (he spells De la Mar ) because he had rented her Paris apartment before moving on and knew her as a friend .
    I had lived in Paris (1959) and was in a lithography studio at Ecole des Beaux Arts so I connected readily, eagerly, to his earlier life there. Of course I’ve been back to France many times since then, have a Ph.D. in French and am blessed with French friends in various parts of France but when I graduated from Antioch I had thought I’d want to live in Paris forever. I decided otherwise.

    I thank you for keeping up with this blog. I’m going to tell my brother (not sure he’ll remember as clearly as I do since he lives in sunny California in SD and was 3 years younger back then— (still is), but I know both younger brothers were with me the day we pool-dipped.

    • Ooops, it was Cobbs Mill I think, not the Red Banr Inn, other side of the River.
      The road toward Georgetown was a dirt road back then and you could go that way (short cut by foot or …car— didn’t drive at age 10-11-12) toi avoid Rt. 57 etc. to get to Cobbs Mill.

      I believe JOhn Hammnd lived across the street from us down Norfield toward Wilton but I was a kid, didn’t know that much abut him, rarely saw him.

  3. Here are my comments. I am the younger brother (of Joan Davidson) who lives in San Diego, CA. You can also look me up on the Internet as Rick Bizzoco. I also have an advanced degree and work in academics. I really remember the pool. I don’t remember the house very clearly, but definitely hold our escapades in tight memory, because they were fabulous. The underground passageway was unique and a mysterious feature of the pool that demanded our exploration. We got past the external barriers quite easily, as they represented little challenge to clever young minds with nimble bodies. When we dove into the pool — it must have been summer — we went straight for the passageway. What intrigued us was that it ramped up so that you entered in the deep water and went through the passageway 20-30 feet long; you swam or walked part way into an expanded underground room, and that went up to the main house. There were some other things we did, but I recall doing them not with my sister Joan Davidson, but with other neighborhood pals, but she could verify that as I was quite a bit younger and maybe 5, 6, or 7 at the time. There was a Shetland pony owned by someone, I recall a Mr. Kalaski or Kalasky who was the grounds keeper and he and his son Johnny lived in a small cottage on the grounds of the De Lamar house. It was likely he who reported us using the pool unauthorized. No one told us not to use it, so I guess that meant we could. But here is what we also did, we desperately wanted to ride on the Shetland pony so another time, when I can’t really recall, but was most likely in the summer when we had lots of free time and were inventive for our activities. We all had taken riding lessons at a local stable and knew how to ride, actually quite will with English or bareback, so a pony seemed at the time to be a likely activity for us. We were in the yard and hopped on the pony, no bit, no bridle, no saddle and of course no brains (i.e. common sense). We, one at a time, tried our luck and one by one 2 or three of us, were thrown off. After that, we left disappointed that we had not triumphed over the pony. I also recall a John Hammond who lived on a house across the street from the De Lamar house and another neighbor Spencer Stout who rented and I believe was an artist. I thought that John Hammond had a friend who moved in from the south for a while, I remember her as Hanna, I could have been in second grade perhaps, but I had a huge crush on her and even recall her name, at least her first name all these years later. We did lots of other mischievious clever things over the years, but I won’t bother you with details. However in my last few words I should point to one of my early jobs, it was as a busboy (I was 16 or 17 at the time) at Cobb’s Mill Inn. I loved working there, I knew the food was great as were all the employees because for years and years when we went out to eat, that was one of our favorites. I definitely was not disappointed with my summer job. It was one of the best I ever had. I poured water, brought anything our customers wanted, knew about the customers, because I had been one and made lots of good friends with other waiters and busboys and had fun, even working until 2 am on some nights. The wages were amazing to me because I had never had a regular job before and for that summer I was flush all the time.

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