John Greenleaf Whittier Homestead

Edit profile
John Greenleaf Whittier Homestead
The John Greenleaf Whittier Homestead is the birthplace and home of American Quaker poet and abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier. It currently serves as a museum.

History
The homestead is located at 305 Whittier Road in Haverhill, Massachusetts. Built in 1688 by Thomas Whittier, pioneer and great-great-grandfather of John Greenleaf Whittier. Thomas Whittier chose the site (originally 148 acres) for its proximity to Fernside Brook, which could both provide water and turn the wheel of a gristmill. The poet was born in 1807 in the southwest parlor of the farm house, which today remains essentially the same as it was in that year. The homestead is the setting for his best-known narrative poem Snow-Bound , published in 1866 and an instant bestseller. Whittier also set many of his other poems in the Haverhill area, including "Fernside Brook", "The Barefoot Boy", and "The Sycamores". Whittier lived in the home for 29 years. Eventually, he settled in Amesbury, Massachusetts and sold the family farm. The home he moved to, the John Greenleaf Whittier Home, is also open to the public. The popularity of Snow-Bound also made the home popular; revived interest in nostalgic kitchens spurred by the poem inspired fans to try to emulate Whittier's kitchen. The poet noted in 1881 that a Cleveland, Ohio resident asked for exact measurements of his Haverhill kitchen in order to recreate Whittier's child-hood hearth. "I certainly never dreamed when writing 'Snow-Bound' ... that it could be worthy of a counterfeit presentation'", he wrote.

After Whittier
Former mayor of Haverhill and boyhood friend of Whittier, James Carleton, bought the farm and donated it to the Haverhill Whittier Club. It was officially opened in 1893, a year after the poet’s death. Today, it functions as a hands-on museum dedicated to the poet’s memory; visitors are allowed to sit in chairs actually used by the family, and the guest register sits on the desk built in 1786 for the poet's great grandfather. The family burial plot is also located on the grounds of the Homestead. Whittier himself, however, is buried in Amesbury.

Building Activity

  • updated a digital reference
    about 5 years ago via Annotator
  • updated a digital reference
    about 5 years ago via OpenBuildings.com