Disposable Camera Tour
Inside the Whittier Home|
Part 3: Upstairs
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This engaging tour is positively intimate and takes visitors throughout the Whittier House in Amesbury, including a thin steep stairway. At the top of the stairs is a rare portrait of Harriet Livermore, daughter of Samuel Livermore, a famous Revolutionary War figure and resident of Portsmouth. Harriet was the "half feared often welcomed guest" who appears in the poem Snow Bound, a figure from Whittier's childhood. Legend says she threw the book across a room on first reading about herself in the poem.
With his coat lying on the bed, it seems that Whittier has just stepped out for a walk to enjoy the New England foliage. This bedroom on the front of the house was Whittier's when his sister was alive, then was turned into the guest room for visiting friends, possibly Emerson, Longfellow and others.
This bedspread reads "Whittier 1837" and was made by a member of the family. Sister Eliza slept here at the top of the stairs, but was very ill much of her life and died young. The room is filled with personal items including Whittier's bow tie and a portrait of the children's beloved mother surrouned by a Victorian floral decoration tied together with strands of the mother's hair. Whittier later moved to this bedroom and a collection of his poetry volumes behind the door look brand new.
In an early postcard this chair is downstairs, but we found it in Whittier's bedroom. The early lounge chair, like so many items in the house, were all owned by the Whittier family. This one was presented by George Peabody whose philanthropic efforts led to the creation of local museums. In his later years, Whittier reportedly stayed upstairs until around noon and enjoyed writing while in this chair by the window.
This may be the worst quality photo we've ever included on this website. It is a picture of a picture that hangs in the upstairs hall and shows the crowd of mourners in the backyard of this house at the poet's funeral in 1892. On the right in the second row is Portsmouth-born poet Celia Thaxter. She is just visible at the top of the dark area where the photographer's head is reflected. Celia met Whittier when he brought his sister Eliza to Smuttynose Island for a healthy outing. Whittier and Celia were great fans of the each other's work and Whittier visited the Isles of Shoals often, crediting Celia as inspiration for some of this Seacoast NH ballads. A rarely seen sketch of Celia is displayed downstairs along with a table she painted and presented to Whittier. One Celia biographer even hints at a love affair between the two poets, though it is unlikely. Whittier never married and was 30 years older than Celia who remained married, though was later separated, from her husband Levi.
CONTINUE WHITTIER HOME TOUR
Disposable images and text by J. Dennis Robinson
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