November 24, 2004
Director of Media Relations

AMHERST, Mass.-The Emily Dickinson Museum will host its annual Open House on Saturday, Dec. 11, from 1 to 4 p.m. in honor of Emily Dickinson's birthday (Dec. 10, 1830). The event is free and open to the public. The Emily Dickinson Museum is composed of the Dickinson Homestead, birthplace and home of the poet, and The Evergreens next door, the home of Austin and Susan Dickinson, the poet's brother and sister-in-law.

Visitors will immediately recognize what the Museum has been up to this year, as they observe the newly completed exterior restoration work on the poet's Homestead. Over the summer and fall, the Homestead was painted in the color scheme it sported when the poet wrote her poetry there in the second half of the 19th century: a light ochre (or mustard) color popular then, off-white architectural trim, dark green shutters and charcoal window sash. Paint analysis by a team of preservation consultants provided the detail needed to cover the house in the authentic color scheme used at the time of poet Emily Dickinson's residence. The restoration work also included repairs to failing masonry and deteriorating carpentry. Interior storm windows were installed to complete the project.

Jane H. Wald, the Museum's director of resources and collections, commented, "This project is one of a number undertaken in the last few years that give the Homestead and The Evergreens the unified appearance they shared in the 19th century. In 1998 the main block of The Evergreens was painted in its original 1856 color scheme, and the rear ell was painted just last year. The Homestead's kitchen and laundry have also been restored to a nineteenth-century color scheme, and the rear ell now serves as the Museum's Tour Center. Looking ahead, the Emily Dickinson Museum is preparing a master plan for the site that will help to guide ongoing restoration of the landscape and historic buildings over the next decade." The Homestead exterior restoration was funded in part by a generous Save America's Treasures grant administered by the National Park Service.

In addition to admiring the new paint job, visitors to the Birthday Open House can explore the interiors of the two houses on self-guided tours. A new exhibit about Dickinson's poetry and letters will be on view for the first time. Visitors will also have the chance to sample the coconut cake recipe from a friend of Emily Dickinson's, as well as the poet's own gingerbread recipe. And a much-anticipated annual tradition of the Open House will occur once again when an anonymous donor will offer a rose to the first 174 visitors to the Museum. An activity guide is available for children.

The Museum is located on Main Street in Amherst and is owned by the Trustees of Amherst College. For more information about the Open House, please call 413/542-8161 or visit 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. Call for more information about accessibility. The Museum will be closed for the winter from Dec. 12 through March 1.