Eugene O’Neill disliked millionaire
Edward Crowninshield Hammond with his whole heart. A local magnate,
Hammond was president of the New London Northern Railroad, which also
operated steamships as the connecting link between the Central Vermont
Railroad and New York City. He was active in the Thames Club as well as
Waterford and New London affairs. The characters Harker in Long Day’s
Journey into Night and T. Stedman Harder in A Moon for the
Misbegotten were based in part on Hammond.
Hammond Estate, c. 1940
Much to Hammond’s ire, O’Neill and his friend Beatrice Ashe often picnicked on his private beach. Sometimes he had them chased from the grounds. In Upon Our Beach, a poem dedicated to Beatrice Ashe, O’Neill wrote:
There are some that think the Hammond mansion has the haunted, tragic quality of Ezra Mannon’s house in Mourning Becomes Electra.
Hammond died in 1940. The property remained in family hands until 1962, when it was purchased by the Town of Waterford. The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center was founded at the Hammond Estate in the following year and is internationally recognized as a leader in new play development.
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