Monday, August 8, 2011

Tour of Home and Gardens of American Poet, Edna St. Vincent Millay

Tours of the homes and grounds where famous writers and poets lived are at the top of my "love to do" list.

Recently, I had the good fortune to tour the home and gardens of the American poet, the late Edna St. Vincent Millay in Austerlitz, New York.

She was a New England writer.  Born in Rockland, Maine in 1892,  she grew up in Camden.  Once, when we traveled through Camden, I remember seeing a plaque with her poetry at the very top of a steep hill, overlooking the countryside. It was a moving experience.

"Vincent," as she liked to be called, married a man from Holland, Eugen  Jan Boissevain.  They bought a farm in Austerlitz, New York, and grew lots of fruits and vegetables. It became a working farm and, at one time, they once employed a total of 30 helpers,  in addition to servants. When a nearby farm became available, they bought that, too! In all, in the day, they had 700 acres of land.

The countryside around Steepletop is breathtaking. There are gigantic trees, including pines, that jut way into the sky; low growing blueberry bushes; an apple orchard plus other fruit trees; and long abandoned gardens, now being restored, that once contained numerous and herbs vegetables. One can even go to a small cabin, nestled in the woods on the property, where Vincent liked to write.

The name of the home and land continues to be called Steepletop, named after wild flowers on the premises.

There was once a spring-fed swimming pool and, nearby, there was an outside bar. There are plans to eventually renovate the pool area. On the tour, I spotted a long long inside the pool and perched on top were several frogs.

A statue of an Indian cupid, located on the lawn behind the pool, still remains.

This is where she used to put seeds for the birds. Underneath the round top is a well.

Vincent and Eugen used to love to have lunch at a table set up under this tree.

This is a picture of a photo showing Edna St. Vincent Millay. It  hangs on a wall in one of the buildings on the tour.

The poet was the first woman to receive a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1923.  She and her husband loved to entertain and had friends visiting and even living with them for extended periods of time.

Unfortunately, Vincent had a traumatic death when she fell down a flight of stairs in the house where she lived and broke her neck. Her body was found on the stair landing.  Admittedly, it was a strange feeling walking up and down that same set of stairs on the tour.

The Edna St. Vincent Millay Society, dedicated to preserving the home and legacy of the poet, is constantly renovating and seeking funds to completely restore the home and property.  To completely restore the home and gardens to the way they were will cost a minumum of $3 million.   It's a very worthy cause.

If  assisting historical restoration projects is something you like to do, there is a website for Steepletop.  Address of the home and grounds is 436 East Hill Road, Austerlitz, NY 12017.



T's Daily Treasures said...

What a lovely tour that must have been. I do love to visit historical homes and places, getting a glimpse of how folks lived long ago. What a tragic ending to her life. Hope your day is good. Tammy

Linda O'Connell said...

That cabin in the woods calls to me. This sounds exactly like my kind of fun. Thanks for taking me on your tour.

Bookie said...

What a wonderful trip you had. Would have loved to go with you as I love writer's home. Have you been to Robert Frost's place in New Hampshire too?

Susan said...

I want to send out a warm welcome to this blog's 241st Follower, "The silver of his fining." So glad you decided to follow. Come by any time.

Hope all of you have a good Monday. Hugs to all. Susan

Dayle said...

I love visiting historical places and homes. Loved this tour.

diane stetson said...

I remember the story of how she died and long ago I even remember going to this place in New York with my brought back memories. I love historical novels, homes and sights. Thanks for sharing.

Chatty Crone said...

I like some historic places and I think this would be one of the ones I'd like to visit. She was a very interesting gal. It must have been odd to walk on the same steps she died on. How far is this from you?

Berenice said...

Thanks for visiting my blog :) I would LOVE to visit historical homes! There are many here in Georgia, especially in Savannah i think.

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