November 19, 2002
Director of Media Relations

AMHERST, Mass.-The Dickinson Homestead and The Evergreens will host an annual Open House on Saturday, Dec. 14, from 1 to 4 p.m. in honor of Emily Dickinson's birthday (December 10, 1830). The event is free and open to the public. The Homestead was the poet's birthplace and home. The Evergreens, next door to the Homestead, was the home of Austin and Susan Dickinson, the poet's brother and sister-in-law.

Visitors can enjoy the two houses on self-guided tours. At the Homestead, an anonymous donor will once again offer a gift of roses to the first 172 visitors to the Homestead. Visitors also have the chance to sample caramel candy from Emily Dickinson's recipe and her neighbor's coconut cake. An activity guide is available for children. At The Evergreens, visitors will hear how Amherst residents celebrated Christmas in the second half of the nineteenth century and about Susan Dickinson's innovative holiday decorations that "scandalized" the family's puritan neighbors.

The Evergreens' Open House will feature special guest John R. Nelson, a cultural historian of toys and toymaking and author of American Folk Toys: Easy-to-Build Toys for Kids of All Ages. Professor Nelson, who has taught American Literature at the University of Massachusetts since 1967 and is director of its Professional Writing Program, will discuss and demonstrate toys from his own collection during the Open House. The exchange of gifts"particularly toys for young children" was an increasingly important tradition in nineteenth-century holiday celebrations.

The Homestead has a new orientation exhibit in its recently completed Tour Center. The Homestead also has a new roof of wood shingles, reminiscent of the roof that covered the house during the poet's lifetime.

The Homestead and The Evergreens are located on Main Street in Amherst. For more information about the Open House, please call the Homestead at (413) 542-8161, The Evergreens at (413) 256-3925, or visit The Homestead is wheelchair-accessible on the first floor. Accessible parking is available at the Homestead; all other vehicles are asked to park on the street or in an Amherst College lot on Spring Street. For more information about special needs or other questions, please call the Homestead at (413) 542-8161. The Homestead and The Evergreens will be closed for the winter from December 15, 2002, through February 28, 2003.

The Homestead is a National Historic Landmark owned by the Trustees of Amherst College. The Evergreens is owned by the Martha Dickinson Bianchi Trust.