A restoration of Emily Dickinson's bedroom will soon allow museum visitors to experience the space in a way that reflects more truly on how it looked when Emily herself resided there.
Stepping into Emily Dickinson's bedroom is a deeply memorable part of Homestead tours for museum visitors. The second floor room, with windows looking out to the south towards the Holyoke Range and west to Amherst's downtown, was Emily's safe haven, a creative space where she could escape from the world and turn her focus to the poetry and letters that have become an essential part of world literature.
Begun in 2013, the 200th anniversary of the Homestead, the bedroom restoration project is scheduled for completion in 2015.
"People of all ages, interests, and backgrounds come to the Emily Dickinson Museum to unravel the mystery of how this woman's seemingly ordinary existence generated such extraordinary poetry," said Emily Dickinson Museum Executive Director Jane Wald. "Restoring Dickinson's bedroom to its nineteenth century appearance will, we hope, offer fresh perspective on her daily life and honor her powerful legacy."
Purchased by the Parke family in 1916, the Homestead underwent a number of changes before it was purchased by the Trustees of Amherst College in 1965. The twentieth-century wallpaper and floorboards from that time have now been removed from Emily Dickinson's bedroom, revealing clues to floor coverings, furniture placement, and room decor during the time of the Dickinsons's residence in the Homestead. The museum has commissioned reproductions of wallpaper based on 19th century wallpaper fragments that were found during the restoration. Paint samples from that era are also being used to blend historically accurate colors.
Exact reproductions of Emily Dickinson's writing stand and bureau were created by Boyd Allen (pictured at right) and Caleb Schultz, respectively, of the North Bennet Street School in Boston. Gifts of Amos and Barbara Hostetter, longtime supporters of the Emily Dickinson Museum, the stand and bureau were based on the originals Harvard University's Houghton Library Emily Dickinson collection.
The architectural research on the room was led by Mesick Cohen Wilson Baker Architects. Their previous work at the museum includes developing the museum master plan and a historic structure report for the Evergreens.