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
Rev. John Sergeant was the first missionary to the Mohicans of Western Massachusetts. He came to Stockbridge in the mid-1730s and lived at first in a small cabin. In 1739, he married Abigail Williams and by 1742 had built what is now known as the Mission House. In 1751, Jonathan Edwards succeeded Rev. Sergeant as missionary. The Sergeant family continued to occupy the house until 1867. The elaborate front doorway was added in the 1760s. The house originally stood on Prospect Hill, but between 1926 and 1930, it was moved to its current location at 19 Main Street and was restored by Miss Mabel Choate, the owner of nearby Naumkeag. The Mission House’s gardens were designed from 1928 to 1933 by Fletcher Steele. The Mission House is now a property of the Trustees of Reservations. Read More
The famous house in Concord known as the “Old Manse,” has associations with the Revolutionary War and with two of America’s greatest literary figures. It was built in 1770 as a “manse”, or parsonage, for the town’s minister, William Emerson. Emerson was there, on April 19, 1775, when the Revolutionary War began at the Old North Bridge, located just behind the Manse property (and now part of Minute Man National Historical Park). Emerson went on to serve as a chaplain with the Continental Army, but died of a fever in October 1776, during the Fort Ticonderoga Expedition. In 1778, Ezra Ripley became Concord’s new minister. He boarded at the Old Manse and in 1780 married William Emerson’s widow, Phebe Bliss Emerson. William Emerson’s son, also named William, became a minister. His son was the famous Transcendentalist, Ralph Waldo Emerson, who lived in the Old Manse, his ancestral home, from 1834-1835, before purchasing his own house in Concord. It was during his residence in the Old Manse that Emerson wrote the first draft of his classic work, Nature.
Ezra Ripley died in 1841 and from 1842 to 1845, the Old Manse was rented by Nathaniel Hawthorne and his new wife, Sophia Peabody. It was during this period that Hawthorne would write many of the stories featured in his collection, Mosses from an Old Manse, including his introductory description of the Old Manse that would help make the building famous. In 1846, the Hawthorne’s left the Manse because Ezra Ripley’s son, Samuel Ripley, returned to live in his childhood home, although he died the following year. His wife, Sarah Alden Bradford Ripley, who had mastered numerous subjects and seven languages, lived on for another two decades, exchanging views with many of the intellectual leaders of the times. She lived through the Civil War, which claimed the life of her younger son, Lt. Ezra Ripley.
When Sarah and Samuel Ripley’s granddaughter, Sarah Ripley Thayer Ames, died in 1939, according to her wishes the house and its contents were sold to The Trustees of Reservations. The Old Manse is now a museum where visitors can tour this National Historic Landmark.