Wednesday, June 01, 2016
At Home with Susan Mary Alsop
I'm certain that many of you are familiar with the late Susan Mary Alsop. A descendant of John Jay, Susan Mary led a most interesting life. During her marriage to her first husband, Bill Patten, Susan Mary lived in Paris, where her husband's position at the American Embassy introduced her to an array of diplomats, artists, and sundry sophisticates. It was also during her time in Paris that she had an affair with Duff Cooper, who fathered Susan Mary's son. This fact was not revealed until the child was well into adulthood.
The Pattens eventually returned to the States, settling in Washington, D.C. After Patten's death in 1960, Susan Mary married prominent journalist, Joseph Alsop, a former college roommate of Patten. Susan Mary and Joseph were among the leading lights of Washington society, known for their inveterate entertaining and their friendship with the John F. Kennedys. In reality, Joseph Alsop was homosexual, and the marriage eventually ended in divorce. But still Susan Mary carried on, eventually writing a number of books, including a compilation of letters between Susan Mary and her great friend, Marietta Tree, as well as a biography of Lady Sackville.
The photos you see here show Susan Mary and her Georgetown townhouse in 1980. Taken by Horst, the photos capture a home that is the essence of WASPy city living. Family portraits and antiques communicated Susan Mary's illustrious family history, while traditional fine fabrics, such as Brunschwig's La Portugaise, added a layer of well-mannered comfort. Decorated by the talented society decorator, Mrs. John Pierrepont, the townhouse is just as I pictured Susan Mary Alsop's home to be.
If you're interested in learning more about the life of Susan Mary Alsop, I highly recommend you read American Lady: The Life of Susan Mary Alsop. It's fascinating and would make for a great beach book.
All photos from House & Garden, November 1980