Tag Archives: Emily Dickinson

Fisher House (1830)

The Fisher House, at 227 South Pleasant Street in Amherst, was built in 1830, possibly by brick mason Hiram Johnson. The house was used as a school by the Nelson sisters, but opinion is divided as to whether or not Emily Dickinson attended school there or not in 1837. Amherst College purchased the house from Anna A. Fisher, wife of G. Edward Fisher, in 1917 and it served for a time as a student residence. It is now a single family home.

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257 Main Street, Amherst (1878)

The dating for the house at 257 Main Street in Amherst, across the street from the Dickinson Homestead, is a little confusing based on the sources immediately available to me. The 2005 guidebook to the Dickinson Historic District describes it as the Cyrus Kingman House, built in the 1850s. Cyrus Kingman was a businessman who established himself in Pelham and then moved to Amherst in 1850, when he purchased the general store that stood where the Town Hall is today. Kingman’s daughters, Martha and Ellen Mary, school friends of Emily Dickinson, died within two weeks of each other in 1851. The surviving daughter, Jane Juliette., and Kingman himself died in 1854. His widow was still living in the house in the early 1870s. Zillow.com has a date for the house of 1878. While Zillow dates are not always accurate, the 1870s seems a more likely period for a house built in the Stick style. Today the house is a bed & breakfast called the Amherst Inn.

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Emily Dickinson Homestead (1813)

The Emily Dickinson Homestead in Amherst was built in 1813 for Samuel Fowler Dickinson, a lawyer and a principal founder of Amherst College, and his wife Lucretia Gunn Dickinson. Pledging his personal property in support of educational endeavors eventually left Samuel Fowler Dickinson bankrupt. In 1833 he sold the house and later moved to Ohio. David Mack, owner of a general store, purchased the house, but Dickinson’s son, Edward, purchased half the house and lived there until 1840 with his wife, Emily Norcross Dickinson, and their children. After living in another house on Pleasant Street (no longer standing), Edward Dickinson purchased the entire Homestead and moved back in with his family in 1855. He soon made improvements, building a rear addition, a veranda on the west side and a conservatory. He also added the distinctive cupola to the roof. Edward also built a house, the Evergreens, next door for his son, William Austin Dickinson, in 1856. His unmarried daughters, Emily and Lavinia, lived in the house after the deaths of their parents. Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), who had been born in the house, had her most productive period as a poet there between 1858 and 1865. After Lavinia’s death in 1899, the house passed to her niece, Martha Dickinson Bianchi, who leased it to tenants. From 1916 to 1965, the Homestead was owned by the Parke family, who then sold it to Amherst College. Opened for tours, the Homstead later joined with the Evergreens to form the Emily Dickinson Museum in 2003. The Emily Dickinson Homestead was painted in its original late-nineteenth-century colors in 2004.

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The Evergreens (1856)

The Evergreens is a house in Amherst built in 1856 by Edward Dickinson for his his son, William Austin Dickinson, who had just married Susan Huntington Gilbert. Austin Dickinson was a lawyer and succeeded his father as treasurer of Amherst College, serving from 1874 until his death in 1895. He is also known for his longtime affair with Mabel Loomis Todd, who would edit early collections of poetry written by Austin’s sister, Emily Dickinson. The Italianate-style Evergreens, designed by Northampton architect William Fenno Pratt, was built next to the Dickinson Homestead, where Emily resided with her sister, Lavinia. The Evergreens became a social and cultural center in the town. After Austin and Sarah Dickinson died (the latter in 1913), the house was lived in and preserved by their daughter, Martha Dickinson Bianchi (died 1943), who left the house to her secretary, Alfred Leete Hampson, stipulating in her will that if Hampson and his family chose not to live in the house, it should be torn down. Hampson’s widow, Mary Landis Hampson, made arrangements in her own will to preserve the house under a trust for public use. Since 2003, it has been owned by Amherst College and, along with the Emily Dickinson Homestead, forms part of the Emily Dickinson Museum.

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