Ailsa Mellon Bruce

Ailsa Mellon Bruce (June 28, 1901 – August 25, 1969), born in Pittsburgh, was a prominent socialite and the daughter of the banker and diplomat Andrew W. Mellon. She served from 1921 to 1932 as her father's official hostess during his tenure as United States Secretary of the Treasury, and again when he was U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom in 1932-33.


She married David K. E. Bruce in 1926, a scion of a prominent Virginia family; he also would become United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom (1961–1969).[1] In 1933, after seven years of marriage, Ailsa gave birth to her only child, a daughter named Audrey [2] They divorced in 1945. When Audrey and her husband, Stephen Currier, died in a presumed plane crash in 1967 leaving three young children – Andrea, Lavinia, and Michael–, Ailsa Bruce decided to bequeath her collection of 18th-century English furniture and ceramics to the Carnegie Institute of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Bruce established the Avalon Foundation in 1940, which made grants to colleges and universities, medical schools and hospitals, youth programs and community services, churches, environmental projects, and an array of cultural and arts organizations. In 1947 the Avalon Foundation was instrumental in the establishment of Hampton National Historic Site in Maryland.

In 1957, when Fortune prepared its first list of the wealthiest Americans, it estimated that Ailsa Mellon Bruce, her brother, Paul, and her cousins Sarah Mellon and Richard King Mellon were all amongst the richest eight people in the United States, with fortunes of between 400 and 700 million dollars each.

At her death in 1969, Ailsa Bruce bequeathed 153 paintings, primarily by French artists, to the National Gallery of Art, as well as establishing a fund for future acquisitions. In 1969, the assets of Paul Mellon’s Old Dominion Foundation were merged into his sister's Avalon Foundation, which was renamed the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in honor of their father.

See also

Wealthiest Americans (1957)


  1. Pitz, Marylynne (November 15, 2009). "Ailsa Mellon Bruce's artworks part of Carnegie collection". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2009-12-08. In 1926, the beautiful, reserved and stubborn young woman married David K. E. Bruce, a talented lawyer and the son of Maryland Sen. William C. Bruce. For wedding presents, A. W. Mellon gave his daughter a pearl necklace valued at $100,000 and a 200-acre estate in Syosset, Long Island.
  2. Cannadine, David. Mellon: An American Life, Vintage Books, 2008.

External links

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