Friday, October 30, 2009
William Cullen Bryants house
William Cullen Bryant Homestead
Off Route 112
Open last Friday in June through Labor Day for guided tours, Friday - Sunday and Monday Holidays, 1 pm - 5pm. After Labor Day through Columbus Day, open weekends and holidays. Admission fee for non members.
William Cullen Bryant, lines from whose "Thanatopsis" lend the title to this essay, started writing poetry in his teens and at length became regarded as one of America’s most important poets throughout the mid-1800s. A Williams College educated lawyer and journalist, he is also one of the founders of the Republican Party. The WCB Homestead, on 465 acres in the Hampshire Hills, was originally a one-and-one-half story Dutch Colonial built in 1783 by Bryant’s grandfather. The poet eventually moved back and bought the property and as he grew more prosperous, eventually becoming editor of The New York Evening Post, he set about ambitiously constructing, transforming the once humble farm, adding wings on either side, and eventually raising the whole house, adding a new lower floor and constructing 26 rooms. The entrance to the site is framed by sugar maples planted by the young poet and his brothers. The 18-year old "Cullen," as he was known, wrote "Thanatopsis," a favorite American "moral" poem here, along with some of his most renowned work. The house is decorated and furnished precisely as it was during the poet’s life. The Homestead remains a distinct source of inspiration for poets of today.
WCB was the great uncle of Mary Alice Bryant Higdon McMican, Mary was my grandma Grace Maxwell Brown's grandmother.