Florence Stol: An Intellectual Salon at the Governor Hunt House

 

While Sebastian Stol turned out to be unsuitable as a husband in every way, Florence took and kept his surname because her own father forbade her to use the family name again. However, even after the divorce, Mr. Louchheim continued to provide Sebastian with a monthly allowance. It is likely that Mr. Louchheim helped support Sebastian so Sebastian could continue to work as an art dealer. Mr. Louchheim was eager to obtain valuable works of art. The divorce was finalized in 1942 and the allowance did not continue forever. In 1952 Sebastian was working for Philco as a regional manager in Mexico. He remained in Mexico until his death in 1986.
 

Florence Stol, on the other hand, returned to the States where she divided her time between New York City and her Vernon home. She was known to friends and family as Flossie. Flossie purchased the Governor Hunt Houses in July of 1947. She wrote to Moreno Villa that the house would be her retreat when the noise of New York scared her too much. That noise did not extend to her personal space because she maintained a steady stream of guests to her Vermont home. 
 

The house became a place for weekend parties, meetings, and soirees. Her guests were an eclectic mix, and clearly Stoll was the hostess of an intellectual salon of sorts. Over the seven years from 1948 – 1955 just a few of her guests included:

  • Dr. Konstantin Zetkin, a German physician, social economist, and political activist

  • Mrs. Hannah Kister, the owner of Raj Publishers, the largest fiction publisher in Poland

  • Bruno Rossi, an atomic scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

  • Mrs. Margaret Gansel, a nom de plume for Marketa Ganselova, a Czechoslovakian foreign correspondent  

  • Mrs. Anya Blauner, a friend and colleague of German psychologist Erich Fromm

  • Miss Catherine Garrison, an undergraduate student at Texas University

  • Dr. Marynia Farnham, the co-author of Modern Woman: The Lost Sex

  • Dr. Benjamin Gruenberg, a biologist and educator

  • Mrs. Bertha Slattery, an art collector and donor to the Museum of Modern Art

  • Mrs. Ruth Friedlich, a television writer

  • Mr. Carlos Hidalgo, an engineer

  • Mr. and Mrs. Arnold Bergier, a sculptor and industrial designer, respectively

  • Mrs. Ellison Lieberman, an artist who opened the first private gallery in Vermont dedicated to showing Vermont artists 
     

Despite the friction generated by Florence’s affair with Moreno Villa, her father did provide for her very generously by means of a trust fund, which made possible her travels, her lifestyle, and particularly, her collecting of artworks by some of the most prominent artists of the first half of the 20th century. Visitors to her New York apartment spoke of “Picassos lined up against the wall in the hallway.” In her will, she specified that the collection should go to the University of Michigan — in honor of her first husband, Paul Osborn, and his professor and mentor at Michigan, the poet Robert Frost. 
 

Florence died of lung cancer in 1967. She was cared for at the Hunt House by Vernon friends and neighbors. It is clear that Florence Louchheim / Flossie / Jacinta / Florence Stol was an independent woman who lived life to the fullest. As for her time in the Governor Hunt House… if only the walls could talk…