What You’ll See at the William Cullen Bryant Homestead

The Berkshires in Western Massachusetts feature a strong artistic and literary culture that you will be able to appreciate during your stay. There is also a rich history that comingles between these cultures and fuels many interesting attractions and destinations in the area. One of these such attractions is the William Cullen Bryant Homestead in Cummington, MA. Here, you will take a trip back to the 1800s, when the famous poet and journalist William Cullen Bryant lived within these walls.

Find out more about all of the great cultural and historical attractions near Brook Farm Inn when you download our free Vacation Guide. It’s full of the best recommendations for literary destinations as well, such as the William Cullen Bryant Homestead!

William Cullen Bryant Biography

Born in 1794, William Cullen Bryant became a popular American poet, journalist, and editor of the New York Evening Post during his influential lifetime. His boyhood home was the William Cullen Bryant Homestead, which he would later occupy and which would eventually become a museum. Inspired by the surrounding nature of Cummington, MA, Bryant began writing poetry. A single bird flying on the horizon inspired one of the most famous William Cullen Bryant poems, “To a Waterfowl.” He later became connected to New York City, where he was hired as editor of the New York Review and then of the United States Review and Literary Gazette. His star career role, however, was as the editor of the New York Evening Post. After retiring from his affluent career, Bryant returned to poetry and translations of Homer, passing away in 1878.

Touring the William Cullen Bryant Homestead

When you visit the William Cullen Bryant Homestead, you will discover the personal history of one of America’s most famous journalists and poets. With a sweeping view of the Hampshire Hills, the homestead is a testament to a prominent past. Bryant purchased the house in 1865, which his family had sold in 1835. He renovated it as a summer home, making it very similar to the homestead you will see today. He also planted over 1,500 fruit trees on the property, and remnants of this orchard still remain on the south end of the farm. 188 of the original 478 acres of the William Cullen Bryant Homestead are still preserved today, and the property is a designated National Historic Landmark. A self-guided tour of the property will take visitors to many of the locations that Bryant talked about in his poetry, including along the Rivulet Trail! 

Discover Our Poetry Collection at Brook Farm Inn!

Here at Brook Farm Inn, you can discover even more ties to poetry! Poetry, in fact, is at the very heart of our Lenox bed and breakfast. The library at our Berkshires inn features an extensive collection of poetry, both traditional and contemporary. We also showcase a poem of the day each morning, encouraging guests to browse our selection. There is ample comfortable seating throughout the inn, from seating by the library fireplace to the gardens outside or hammock beside the pool. Along with our library collection of poetry, we also host poetry readings throughout the year during which you can enjoy homemade scones and strawberry jam among inspirational words!

What is So Fascinating About the Lenox Library?

The Lenox Library is a historic landmark, hosted in a 200-year-old courthouse building since 1874. The library itself has a rich history, from its famous visitors to its special collections, featuring the Tanglewood Papers. The Lenox Library also hosts modern youth programs and a distinguished lecture series, which keep the library active in the community while also continuing a tradition in furthering the literary and intellectual.

200-year-old Courthouse Building

Since 1874, the Lenox Library has been housed in the same building, which is now designated a National Register Historic Building. The Greek Revival structure with magnificent ionic columns, elaborate cupola, and a stately facade, was constructed on Main Street in 1815-1816. Designed by Captain Isaac Damon, it served as the county courthouse until 1868. Adeline Schermerhorn bought the building shortly after in 1871 specifically to use as a public library and reading room for the residents of Lenox. The Lenox Library Association, which was incorporated in 1856, moved into the courthouse building in 1874. It shared the space in the 1890s with Lenox’s town doctor, a jail, offices for the Lenox National Bank, as well as the town’s first telephone switchboard and fire alarm system.

Famous Associates

The Lenox Library had a strong relationship with surrounding cottages. From the mid-1800s to early 1900s, famous tenants took summer vacations in the surrounding homes. Some of these characters included the Vanderbilts, Carnegies, Morgans, Sloanes, and Westinghouses. Their summer homes in Lenox gave the area an established reputation for housing culture and style. During these years, the Lenox Library was a civic center for the entire community.

Music Collection

The Tanglewood Papers are housed at the Lenox Library. These historic papers document the history of the Berkshire Symphonic Festival and Berkshire Music Center before the founding of Tanglewood, as well as the official founding of Tanglewood and its music pavilion, The Shed. The collection is available through appointment with the music and reference librarian.

Youth Programs

The Lenox Library is a great resource for kids, hosting several youth programs such as homework help centers and a summer reading program. The website also hosts a page of book series suggestions based on grade ranges and youth reference databases that are free to any Massachusetts library card holders. Kid’s search engines and information portals are also available as wonderful resources.

Lenox Library Distinguished Lecture Series

A monthly distinguished lecture series is hosted at Lenox Library, featuring intellectuals and artists that all seek to inspire with words. The series covers a range of cultural endeavors, from literature, art, and music to science, history, and politics. These free lectures are open to the public, and speakers have included a Nobel Prize Winner, an actor from Shakespeare & Company, a professor at Boston University, and several authors.

Keep Things Literary at Brook Farm

With its extensive poetry collections in the bed and breakfast library, Brook Farm Inn holds literature very dear. A good selection of popular novels are available alongside both traditional and contemporary poetry collections for guests to browse and read during their stay. The inn also hosts poetry readings in the library at tea time, during which guests can also enjoy homemade scones and strawberry jam! For information on what else to do during your stay in Lenox, download our free vacation guide.