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Inside the Whittier Home
Amesbury, MA
Part 2: Downstairs
Page 1 || Page 2 || Page 3 || Page 4

John Greenleaf Whittier 1

Visitors who come in through the front door are greeted by an austere bust of Whittier in a mirrored alcove. A somber Victorian sense pervades. Whittier was a 59 year old bachelor when he became famous for the popular poem "Snow Bound".



John Greenleaf Whittier 2

"Snow Bound" was originally intended as a short poem, assigned to Whittier by James T. Fields, then publisher of Our Young Folks". It's the story of the poet's boyhood in Haverhill at the "homestead" written as a Christmas poem. It ended up filling a small volume. Editor Fields was a Portsmouth, NH Unitarian minister. He and poet Thomas Bailey Aldrich both edited children's publications and both were editor of the prestigious Atlantic Monthly. Field's wife Annie, like Whittier, also became close friends with Isles of Shoals poet Celia Thaxter. This mural of the Haverhill home was recently painted in the caretaker's area of the Amesbury house.



John Greenleaf Whittier 3

Just inside the entrance are the Amesbury home are two photos of the house. The bottom one shows the building as purchased by Whittier before it was raised and a bottom story added as seen in the photo above.



John Greenleaf Whittier 4

Whittier's presence is everywhere in the house. Many of the pictures remain just where he hung them. This rooms was actually added just after his death and is the meeting place of the house stewards today. He shared the house with his mother and sister Eliza. Our pictures of the main rooms are too bad to display due to the dark Victorian wallpaper and low light. To compensate, we bought a few old postcards in the gift shop. Essentially the house is just as it appeared to early tourists and during Whittier's life.

John Greenleaf Whittier 5

The "gift shop" or Manuscript Room contains one of Whittier's work desks, books, and a stunning display of Whittier curiousities -- canes, early photos, early souvenirs, locks of hair. This corner of the museum room shows photos of other well known abolitionists including Dover, NH's John P Hale, wife of Lucy Hale. Whittier's death mask is visible in the lower portion of the photo. Stories of New Hampshire are often included in the tour, including an incident where Whittier was pelted with stones after an abolitionist rally in Portsmouth, NH -- not a proud moment for the "City of the Open Door."

CONTINUE WHITTIER HOME TOUR

Disposable images and text by J. Dennis Robinson
Copyright © 2000 SeacoastNH.com. All rights reserved.


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