The house at 74 Fairfield Street in Springfield was built in 1903 for Henry Russell, but it is most notable as the childhood home of Dr. Seuss. Theodore Geisel was born on March 2, 1904, in his family’s home on Howard Street. In 1906, when he was two, his family moved to 74 Fairfield Street, where they would live until 1943. The author’s father, Theodore Geisel, senior, ran the family brewery until it closed due to prohibition. He then became superintendent of city parks, which included the local zoo. Ted Geisel moved away after he graduated from Dartmouth in 1925, but images from his childhood in Springfield would later reappear in his illustrated children’s books.
William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878) was a major poet and for 50 years was editor and publisher of The New York Evening Post. He was born in a log cabin in Cummington. When he was two, Bryant‘s father, Dr. Peter Bryant, moved the family to a house in Cummington that the doctor’s father-in-law had built in circa 1783-1785. The house became young William Cullen Bryant‘s boyhood home and is now called the William Cullen Bryant Homestead. In 1865, after the old farmhouse had been out of the family for 30 years, Bryant purchased and extensively altered it in to reflect Victorian stylistic tastes. He began by raising the original section of the house, creating a new ground floor. He also added a gambrel-roofed study, a replica of his father’s medical office, which projects from the front facade, and constructed an addition to the house’s original rear ell. The renovated house would serve as his summer home until his death. It is now owned by the Trustees of Reservations and can be toured by the public. Read More
Home at various times to such authors as Ray Stannard Baker and Mary Heaton Vorse, the house at 219 Amity Street in Amherst is most associated with Eugene Field, a journalist and writer, best known for his children’s poetry and humorous essays. Field was born in St. Louis (where his birthplace house is now a museum), but after the death of his mother in 1856 he was raised by a cousin, Mary Field French, in the house on Amity Street in Amherst. The house was built in 1839 for by Robert Cutler for French’s father, Thomas Jones.
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.
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.
Helen Hunt Jackson, the author of many books and poems, was born Helen Maria Fiske in Amherst in 1830 in a Greek Revival house, built the same year at 249 South Pleasant Street. Her father, Nathan Fiske, was a minister and a professor of Language and Philosophy at Amherst College. A contemporary and classmate of Emily Dickinson, Helen Hunt Jackson was educated at the Ipswich Female Seminary and at the Abbott Brothers’ School in New York City. She was married twice, lost two sons and lived later in life in Colorado. An activist who denounced the treatment of Native Americans by the U.S. government, she detailed the history of broken treaties and called for reform in her book, A Century of Dishonor (1881). Inspired by Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, she also addressed the issue of the federal government’s mistreatment of Native Americans in her novel, Ramona (1884). Her birthplace was later acquired by Amherst College and is now a private residence.
The Dell is a Colonial Revival house at 97 Spring Street in Amherst. It was built in 1907 for the Churchill family and, from 1950 to 1958, was the home of author Howard R. Garis (1873-1962). He was the author of the Uncle Wiggily stories, which he began writing in 1910. Garis also wrote the first 37 Tom Swift books and other stories under the name Victor Appleton, a house pseudonym used by the Stratemeyer Syndicate. Today the Dell is used as the offices of Five Colleges, Incorporated.