Alan and Susan Lewis Solomont
A handmade Thai headboard adorns the master bedroom in Alan and Susan Lewis Solomont's Weston home. (Globe staff photo/Pat Greenhouse)
WESTON -- Bill Clinton partied here. So did Hillary. So has Ted Kennedy. And John and Teresa Heinz Kerry. And Dick Gephardt. And Tom Daschle.
It must be a grand estate, then, to have hosted all these Democratic luminaries in this western suburb, where million-dollar homes are a dime a dozen, no?
But it isn't. Alan and Susan Lewis Solomont's home is modest by community standards.
''We're pretty down-to-earth," says Susan, explaining that their primary reasons for moving to Weston 18 years ago were the public schools and easy access to Boston. Over the years they've looked at other houses in town, but always came back to their 1920s Colonial. ''We have everything we need here," says Susan. ''And we live in a neighborhood, which is important to us."
What's inside, however, is an opulent showcase for their passions. Mementoes are everywhere -- many from the years Alan spent as a top fund-raiser for the Clinton organization, for the Democratic Party, and for Kerry's presidential campaign. Rubbing elbows with political leaders has produced plentiful snapshots of the Solomonts with the Clintons, Gores, Kerrys, and Ted Kennedy.
But not only personal photographs are on display. The Solomonts are avid collectors of paintings, autographs, professional photographs, music, books, and knickknacks. Any visitor to their home might want to browse, as if in a museum, for hours.
It's in the hallway to the family room that Alan's love of history and politics comes to light. His collection of autographs includes a 1794 document signed by Samuel Adams, two letters from Eleanor Roosevelt, a letter signed by President Harry Truman, and an autograph and photo Jack Kerouac.
Like others of his generation, Alan, 56, was drawn to political activism as a college student in the 1960s. The Brookline-raised Tufts University graduate started working as a community organizer in Lowell, then went on to build a business in the elder-care industry, which he sold in 1996. He has since engaged in political fund-raising, nonprofit, and other ventures, and sits on a dozen boards including Boston Medical Center and Tufts.
Susan, 50, is similarly involved in community organizations and is a senior fellow at The Philanthropic Initiative, a nonprofit consulting firm.
The hallway's display of autographs is but a prelude to the collection exhibited in Alan's study. A lifelong Democrat, Alan managed to get his hands on a copy of the House Judiciary committee roll-call vote on President Nixon's impeachment, signed by Chairman Peter Rodino (Ayes 27; nays 11). Another treasure is a photograph he took of leaders at the signing of the 1994 peace treaty between Israel and Jordan. Solomont was invited to attend as a ''friend of Bill," he says.
Elsewhere, the couple fights over wall space. ''Alan would use every inch," says Susan.
She prefers more space and color, but isn't without her favorite display, the ''rock 'n' roll wall" in the family room. Against a vibrant red background, the Grateful Dead is memorialized with photographs, album covers, and other signed memorabilia. Susan will have the band's music in her ears when she does the running leg of her first triathlon this summer.
On another wall in the family room hangs a family portrait taken by Cambridge photographer Elsa Dorfman for Father's Day in 1994. With the couple are daughters Becca and Stephanie. Becca, now 19, just completed her freshman year at Tufts, and Stephanie, almost 14, will be going to Weston High School in the fall.
The Solomonts do most of their entertaining in the living room, a large yet comfortable and cheery space filled with traditional European-style furniture.
The collecting reaches its pinnacle here: Tabletops are jammed with Limoges porcelain boxes, crystal figurines, dreidels, and glass globes. Paintings by Hawaiian and Chilean artists and a treasured photograph of Ernest Hemingway fishing in Cuba adorn the walls. And personal photographs of family and the Solomonts with prominent politicians cover the top of the mini-baby-grand piano that no one plays anymore.