WellesleyWeston Magazine


Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

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Page 93 of 229

Alice belonged to the exclusive Chilton Club for women, regularly attended the Boston Symphony, and sponsored civic and cultural events. An April 1915 story in the Globe lists her among the members of the Equal Franchise Committee, which sponsored speeches, rallies, and lobbying efforts to promote women's voting rights. In honor of her husband, who died in 1928, Alice donated a pan- eled room that had been dismantled from the 18th-century Newland House in Gloucestershire, England, to the Museum of Fine Arts. In her lifetime and by bequest, she also gave the MFA antique furnish- ings and paintings. The Hurricane of 1938 downed many of the famous elms on the estate. Raymond Frost, whose father managed the property, recalled in a lecture at Mass Hort that Alice was heartbroken. Less than two months later, on November 3, Alice attended a New York production of Victoria Regina starring Helen Hayes. During intermission, she left for the restroom. When she didn't return, a nephew, John Davis, who happened to be in the audience, sought out a doctor. He learned that his aunt had been found dead of natural causes. Alice was 71. * * * The Cheney and Baltzell families stayed in the news after Alice's death. In 1941, three brothers—sons of a first cousin of Dr. Baltzell—sued for a share of the Cheney-Baltzell estate. They sought $21,000, claiming that Alice had promised to pay their college and related expenses if they swore off liquor. Their mother sued for an additional $28,000 for her role in keeping her sons sober. The fam- ily, all members of a prominent Philadelphia family, failed to per- suade a Dedham jury. Interestingly, one of the brothers, E. Digby Baltzell, went on to become a celebrated sociologist, author of such books as The Protestant Establishment: Aristocracy and Caste in America and Puritan Boston and Quaker Philadelphia. He is credited with having popularized the term WASP. Meanwhile, Alice's oldest brother, Benjamin Cheney Jr., suffered numerous financial setbacks and had to rely in part on the income of his wife, Broadway actress Julia Arthur. Later in his life, he became interested in the history of his father's railroad enterprises and the blazing of the West. He would take the lengthy journey on his own, phoning his wife in Boston every few days. In the spring of 1942, the 76-year-old set out to explore the Arizona desert. When Julia didn't hear from him for two weeks, she called for a search. A cowboy found Benjamin's body, an empty canteen at his side, 20 miles from his stalled car. Not far away were the tracks of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe. 92 W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e | s p r i n g 2 0 1 7 A House of Many Stories "The main challenge, of course, would be the multi-million dollar restoration costs."

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