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Amherst College > News & Events > Amherst Magazine > Archives > Winter 2004 > College Row
College Row

Dickinson Museum receives major grant

The U.S. Congress has awarded The Emily Dickinson Museum a $200,000 matching grant for restoration, preservation and system upgrades at the Dickinson Homestead (the poet’s lifelong home) and The Evergreens, the 1856 home of Dickinson’s brother, Austin, and sister-in-law, Susan. Rep. John Olver of Massachusetts, a member of the Interior Appropriations Committee, announced the award at the end of October. He secured the funds under the Save America’s Treasures program, which protects art and artifacts of national significance.

Amherst College has owned the Dickinson Homestead since 1965; in July, the Homestead and The Evergreens merged to form The Emily Dickinson Museum. Together, the buildings are devoted to the interpretation of Dickinson’s life, her family and the community in which she lived.

“The Emily Dickinson Museum is truly a gem,” Olver said, “and I am pleased that we are a step closer to providing federal funding for the preservation and restoration of this historic site. In these tight financial times, the much-needed improvement projects might otherwise have been delayed for many years.” The grant has been signed into law, but before the money can be awarded, the museum must raise an additional $200,000, a process that Associate Director Jane Wald says is already underway.

The funding is most welcome to the museum, which suffers from moisture-control problems and simple wear-and-tear. The exterior wood and brick of the Homestead need work to return the building to an accurate 19th-century appearance, and The Evergreens needs major interior restorations. The museum also plans extensive upgrades to address the out-of-date electrical, plumbing and air conditioning systems.

“Because Dickinson lived in Amherst for her entire life, her home is the destination each year for visitors from around the world, who come here to better understand the poet whose work intrigues or inspires them,” Museum Director Cindy Dickinson said of the 8,000 people who visit the two houses annually. “This generous appropriation comes at a critical time in the life of this new museum.”

Next: In memoriam: Ed Wall >>

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