Emily Dickinson Museum - Location

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Location

During the Great Migration in the 1630s, thousands of English settlers flooded into the Massachusetts Bay Colony, some spreading westward into the lower lands of the Connecticut River Valley where the towns of Hartford and Wethersfield were founded. In December 1658, a dissenting minority of strict Congregationalists in Hartford and Wethersfield purchased land from the Native Americans for the new town of Hadley, farther north along the Connecticut River on a fertile peninsular plain. In 1734 an eastern section of Hadley was carved off to become a separate third precinct of Amherst. At that time the territory was described as “being seven miles (11 km) in length and two and three-quarters miles in breadth, bounded on the north by Sunderland, on the east by equivalent lands, on the south by the Boston road and on the west by Hadley common lands”.

Nathan Dickinson Sr., Emily Dickinson’s great-great-grandfather, moved from Hatfield to Amherst in 1742 when the land was allotted and surveyed. He notoriously expanded his lot “in the eastern division, north of the Pelham road” by trespassing on highway rights. By 1813, the Dickinson family’s grounds consisted of 11 acres (4.5 ha) of meadow south of the Pelham road—now called Main Street—and 3 acres (1.2 ha) north of the road where two houses were built: the Homestead in 1813 and the Evergreens in 1856.

The houses today are located at 280 Main Street, across the street from the First Congregational Church (constructed in 1739). The property is one block east of the center of town and two blocks north of Amherst College. It is bounded on the south by Main Street, on the east by Triangle Street, on the north by Lessey Street, and on the east by a public lot. The property contains a wide lawn east of the buildings, site of the Dickinson family gardens.

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