Arrowhead (1780)

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Arrowhead is the house in Pittsfield where Herman Malville wrote Moby Dick and other classic works. The house was built around 1780 by Captain David Bush and operated as an inn by Bush and his son. It originally had a much higher gambrel roof, but this was later removed, resulting in a lower roofline. There is a pdf file available of the house’s National Register of Historic Places Inventory nomination form. In the early nineteenth century, the house was the home of Melville’s Uncle Thomas and the author first visited the property, with its view of Mount Greylock, in 1832. In 1850, following the lead of his friend Hawthorne, who had also settled in nearby Lenox, Melville decided to move his family to the farm and they lived there until 1863. Melville named the house Arrowhead, because many arrowheads were dug up around the property during planting season. Shortly after buying Arrowhead, Melville added a side porch, after which his story “The Piazza” is named. These were productive years for Melville as a writer. During his time at Arrowhead, he wrote Moby Dick (1851), Pierre (1852), Israel Potter (1855), The Piazza Tales (1856), and The Confidence Man (1857). His story, “I and My Chimney,” has a description of the house as it appeared when Melville lived there. Not earning a living from his writing, Melville eventually returned to New York, taking a job as a customs inspector. He sold Arrowhead to his brother Allan and it remained in the Melville family until 1927. In 1975, the house was purchased by the Berkshire County Historical Society and restored to become a museum.

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