Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site - The Sandburg Era

The Sandburg Era

Sandburg purchased Connemara on October 18, 1945 for $45,000. Mrs. Sandburg had been looking for a new farm in a warmer climate to raise her Chikaming dairy goats. When she showed Connemara to her husband, he reportedly said, “This is the place. We will look no further.” Upon buying the house, the Sandburgs immediately began remodeling. Contractors were hired to work on the heating, plumbing, electrical, the roof and the cement floor of the basement. The Sandburgs installed new chimneys and bathrooms, as well as dozens of bookshelves for his large library. They also repainted the house and installed a new indoor kitchen, having turned the original kitchen building into a three- car garage. The entire remodeling process lasted for some two and a half years. In addition, more than 42,000 lb (19,000 kg) of personal belongings, primarily Sandburg’s library, were sent by train from their old house in Harbert, Michigan.

The Sandburgs lived at Connemara from October 1945 to July 1969. Mr. and Mrs. Sandburg lived there along with their three daughters, Margaret, Janet, and Helga, as well as Helga’s two children, John Carl and Karlen Paula. Sandburg published more than a third of his works while living at Connemara, and it was at this house he died of natural causes in 1967. After his death, his wife decided to sell Connemara to the U.S. government to preserve the house as a memorial to her husband. The Secretary of Interior and family friend Stewart Udall visited the house in October 1967, and Mrs. Sandburg signed a deed of gift in June of the following year. On October 18, 1968, President Johnson approved a congressional act making the home a historic site. The home officially opened to the public in 1974. The National Park Service restored the house and installed Plexiglas covers over the bookcases during the time between the purchase and its opening.

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