Robert Frost Stone House Museum Gifted to Bennington College
Bennington College announced it will acquire the Robert Frost Stone House Museum in Shaftsbury, thanks to a generous gift from the Friends of Robert Frost. The home represents the period when Robert Frost claimed his place among America’s great poets. The Museum will complete its scheduled season for 2017, which includes public visiting hours through the end of October, and will reopen to the public in spring 2018.
Frost purchased the Stone House, built around 1769, in 1920. It was there that he wrote one of his most famous poems, ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’ in 1922, and where he was living when he won his first Pulitzer. The young apple orchard on the property was propagated from Frost’s own trees. The gift to the College includes the house, seven acres of property and two barns. It is located a five minute drive from the College’s campus, and near Frost’s grave in the cemetery at the Old First Church in Old Bennington. The property was preserved and opened as a house museum 15 years ago, welcoming more than 50,000 visitors from all over the world.
“We identified the need for a succession plan many years ago,” said Friends of Robert Frost founder and executive director Carole Thompson. “This house is history. We approached Bennington College with this idea in May, and have been very pleased with their enthusiasm. I’m sure Frost would approve.”
“Frost remains one of our country’s major literary figures who represented for several generations what it was to be an American poet,” said poet Mark Wunderlich, director of the Bennington Writing Seminars, the College’s low-residency MFA in Writing program. “It’s time to look again at Frost’s work for what it is – tough-minded poems that are haunted, pessimistic, stately, and which belie great self-awareness on behalf of the poet who wrote them.”
As a neighbor and a notable literary figure, Frost was in conversations with the founders of Bennington College at its inception. He made faculty recommendations to the founding president, and spoke at the College several times, including during its first academic year. (Frost lived for a time in what is now known as Shingle Cottage on the College campus. Later, as faculty housing, Shingle was home to Frost’s contemporaries, poets WH Auden and Theodore Roethke. It is currently a student residence.)
In addition to continuing as an historic house and museum, the College will use the Stone House Museum for educational purposes, incorporating it into its literature and writing programs. The Frost House will also provide enhanced learning and event space, including the College’s Masters of Fine Arts in Writing program; The Bennington Review, the College’s literary journal; and Poetry at Bennington, a residency series that brings award-winning poets to campus for readings. This fall, writer and director of Special Programs Megan Mayhew Bergman will lead a class that explores Frost’s presence in Shaftsbury: the work he made while here, his house, archives and his agricultural intentions.