Longfellow House

From the scenic setting that inspired Robert Frost’s “Mending Wall” to the cozy study in the house (pictured above) where Henry Wadsworth Longfellow conjured “Paul Revere’s Ride” and “The Song of Hiawatha,” here are ten places for poetry enthusiasts to add to their travel wish lists. Even though their doors are currently closed, some of these museums can be toured virtually while others are offering fun and innovative online programming. Check websites and follow their social media accounts for news and announcements.

Emily Dickinson Museum, Amherst, Massachusetts
During her lifetime, Emily Dickinson penned some 1,800 poems spanning a wide range of subjects, from spirituality and nature to art and medicine. Only a few of her poems were published during her lifetime, while others she shared with family and friends. Much of Dickinson’s verse was penned in secret, recorded in small, handmade booklets discovered after her death. The museum encompasses two Dickinson family homes, along with gorgeous grounds where the green-thumbed poet once gardened in her signature white dress (a replica of which is on display in her bedroom).

Robert Frost Farm, Derry, New Hampshire
“To a large extent, the terrain of my poetry is the Derry land­scape,” Robert Frost told a friend. “There was something about the experience at Derry which stayed in my mind, and was tapped for poetry in the years that came after.” In a white clapboard farmhouse, a gift to the newly wed Frost from his grandfather at the turn of the 19th century, he penned verse late at night in the kitchen cozied up to a wood stove. A signposted nature trail on the property highlights notable sites like the stone-wall boundaries evoked in “Mending Wall” and the stream Frost immortalized in “Hyla Brook.”

Robinson Jeffers’ Tor House and Hawk Tower, Carmel, California
Robinson Jeffers was hands-on when constructing a stone house along the central California coast that inspired much of his work. The poet apprenticed himself to the building contractor, learning the art of making “stone love stone,” and built by himself an accompanying three-story tower, which he used as a writing retreat. Jeffers’ verse earned high praise from his friend and fellow Californian John Steinbeck, who declared: “His poetry is perfect to me.”

Langston Hughes House, New York City
Nicknamed “the poet laureate of Harlem,” Langston Hughes lived his last two decades in the northern Manhattan neighborhood that inspired his writing. He resided in a brownstone at 20 E. 127th Street, now a city landmark, where he wrote the jazz-influenced Montage of a Dream Deferred and other works. The building is also home to the I, Too, Arts Collective, a nonprofit organization committed to nurturing voices from underrepresented communities in the creative arts. On display are Hughes’ typewriter and a piano that belonged to his family.

Longfellow House, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Plenty of famous figures have crossed the threshold at this yellow-hued house in Cambridge (pictured above). Before it was home to 19th-century American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, it was General George Washington’s headquarters during the Siege of Boston in 1775–76. Charles Dickens once came to call here on Longfellow, along with scores of other writers, artists, and politicians. The house and its contents remain largely unchanged since the poet’s day.

The Poe Museum, Richmond, Virginia
This atmospheric museum has one of the largest collections of Edgar Allan Poe memorabilia, with exhibits housed in four historic buildings surrounding a garden courtyard. Although he spent much of his life roaming the northeast, living in Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York, Poe thought of himself as a Virginian, having grown up in Richmond with an adoptive family. In the Enchanted Garden, inspired by Poe’s poem “To One in Paradise,” is a shrine to the poet built with bricks and materials from the office of the Southern Literary Messenger, where he worked as an editor. Roaming the garden are two resident black cats, Edgar and Pluto, the latter named after the feline in Poe’s story “The Black Cat.”

Carl Sandburg’s Connemara Farm, Flat Rock, North Carolina
Carl Sandburg moved from the shores of Lake Michigan to a secluded, sprawling farm in North Carolina seeking solitude, space for his large family (not to mention a 15,000-volume book collection), and greener pastures and longer grazing seasons for his wife’s goat-breeding operation—which is still going strong today. Along with house tours, there is a series of hiking trails on the grounds. Visitors can also stop by  the Connemara Farms Goat Dairy to see how it’s run and to interact with the resident animals.

Anne Spencer House and Garden Museum, Lynchburg, Virginia
A Harlem Renaissance-era poet, civil rights activist, and native Virginian, Anne Spencer lived in a Queen Anne-style house, built by her husband, for more than seven decades beginning in 1903. The purchase of a neighboring lot greatly expanded the size of the garden, where Spencer wrote in a specially constructed, one-room retreat. She was only the second African American poet to have her work included in the Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry. Take a virtual tour of the house and gardens here.

Walt Whitman House, Camden, New Jersey
Whitman’s belated international celebrity as the author of Leaves of Grass allowed the 64-year-old poet to purchase “a little old shanty” in the southern New Jersey town where his brother lived. His final years were spent in this Greek Revival-style row house, where he further refined Leaves of Grass (resulting in the definitive “deathbed edi­tion”). Today, the six-room dwelling contains the death notice that was taped to his door after his passing in 1888, along with many of his letters, personal effects, and furnishings.

Poets House, New York City
This literary center in lower Manhattan houses a 70,000-volume poetry library that is freely accessible to poets, researchers, and book lovers. Browse the shelves, read, or write in the spacious, sunny reading room or the “quiet room” with views of Rockefeller Park and the Hudson River. Poets House hosts a wide range of programming, some of which is currently being offered online, including free writing workshops and a series of readings from poets’ homes.