A windy driveway, along scenic byway Rt. 112 passes through gorgeous vistas of the surrounding Westfield Valley. The valley is lined with old Maple trees and stonewalls and our destination that day ended in Cummington, Massachusetts at the boyhood home and later summer residence of William Cullen Bryant. Bryant was not only the most influential American poet in the first half of the 19th century but also the most innovative pioneer in the American short story. He found his inspiration right here gazing at the spectacular scenery and wrote most of his work in the library of the House.
The William Cullen Bryant Homestead is where the poet moved when he was 4 years old and stayed there until he was 22. He briefly attended college but did not find joy in that and after only 7 months he returned to the House where he resigned until his passing in 1878. Following private study he passed the bar and started practicing law in a nearby town. His poem “To a Waterfowl” was inspired by his daily 7 mile long commute from his House to work. The Homestead site is prominent in his first story “A Pennsylvanian Legend.” On days when the House is open for tours visitors can find Colonial and Victorian pieces from the poet’s family as well as Bryant’s furnishings and mementos and see the library where Bryant produced the first and best translations of The Iliad and The Odyssey in the 19th Century.
In recent history the Homestead has gotten quite famous for supernatural activities after a visitor reported an alleged hard blowing in his ear while taking a tour of the house. The Trusties of Reservation which maintain the property after the granddaughter of the poet donated it to them in 1929 offer a spooky tour of the house with promise of a good potential scare. Visitors are offered a spine-chilling experience at the Homestead where they can see what ghoulish spirits lurk about in this 200 year old house! According to the Trustees page the tour starts with Edgar Allan Poe meeting Washington Irving in this creepy haunted house that takes you through the eerie servant’s quarters, the third floor and back staircases. You never know who…or what…you’ll encounter! The tour is nothing short of spook-taculour!
After visiting the house we highly encourage you to follow the map and the Rivulet Trail pass the pastures, fields, and woodlands to the stream immortalized in Bryant’s 1823 poem “The Rivulet”. Here you can get to know the man behind the poetry and experience the homestead as it were in Bryant’s time.
We couldn’t resist taking a not so quick stop at the nearby “Old Creamery” where we enjoyed a delicious lunch, warm coffee and freshly backed scones. Their deli offers a dynamic and interesting selection of hot and cold entrees, side dishes, soups, sandwiches and bagels. After lunch we wandered around the store through the crafts from many local artists and a slew of local Authors.
If you choose to visit The William Cullen Bryant Homestead you can find it here: