The first owner of 13 Sutton Place after its architectural revival in the 1920s was Elizabeth Marbury. Marbury and her companion, Elsie de Wolfe had spent their earlier years paving the way for women in the theatrical profession and, defying all the traditional rules expected of young women during the late 1880s. Marbury’s first break came after convincing Frances Hodgson Burnett, the author of Little Lord Fauntleroy and The Secret Garden, to hire her as business manager and agent in 1885. As an agent and play broker, Marbury’s younger days spent reading her father’s law books came in handy in the realm of copyrights, plagiarism and all things pertaining to being a representative of authors and playwrights. In the years that followed she represented famous writers from both sides of the Atlantic including James M. Barrie, Hall Caine, Rachel Crothers and Clyde Fitch.
13 SUTTON PLACE BEGINNINGS
At the beginning of the roaring 20’s, the famed Marbury convinced John Pierpont Morgan, the father of her friend Anne Tracy Morgan, to purchase the Sutton Place property where old fashioned houses stood. Marbury contracted her architect, Mott B. Schmidt, to artistically revive the center home within the community of old-fashioned houses on Sutton Place. You might say that was the home’s debut into the world of theatrics and Schmidt’s debut to architectural fame. Once revived, it became host to Marbury’s series of illustrious guests. She spent time with the likes of Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw – entrusted with producing their works and plays, she assisted them in their moves upward as playwrights.
After Elizabeth Marbury’s death in the early 1930s, the mantle was passed to another lively theatrical name, Mariam Hopkins. Hopkins was known to always bring light and life wherever she went. The papers lauded her saying that, “her capacity for happiness is infinite.” Like Marbury’s companion, Elsie de Wolfe, who had at one time entered the home of Comte Etienne de Beaumont by turning handsprings, Mariam Hopkins was not only an entertaining actress, but apparently had “collected an astonishing set of servants” including a butler who would fly an airplane on his afternoons off. According to newspapers Hopkins was considered a perfect fit for the role as new owner of the house as she continued Marbury’s tradition.
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