Sunday, April 1, 2012

Called Back

 
A continuously changing collection of trinkets and mementos adorn EED's tombstone

 
Stone walls do not a prison make, Nor iron bars a cage 

Miss Emily's final resting place, centered in West Cemetery, is enclosed by an ornate black wrought iron fence constructed in 1858 for one of the elite families of Amherst--the Dickinson's.

Today the tranquil site enclosing four tombstones attracts visitors from all over the world, almost exclusively to pay homage to the "Belle of Amherst".  And it has been showing its age for too many years now.

More recent plaque looks fine
 The original 1858 gate was stolen in the 1970s and returned in 2004

Next month Amherst Town Meeting will consider recommendations of the Community Preservation Act Committee, whose sole charge is to sort out capital requests concerning Recreation/Open Space, Affordable Housing and Historical Preservation.

Enter the Holy Grail of Amherst history, the decaying fence that has protected the Dickinson family for over 150 years. The $40,000 request, added to $21,000 appropriated two years ago, will allow for complete refurbishment of the entire fence to good as new condition.

The renovation will start this summer and is expected to be completed before first snowfall, although the fence will have to be disassembled and taken off site.

Since Emily Dickinson is arguably the most famous citizen in our 250+ year history, it's a safe bet Town Meeting will approve the spending article.  Although the occasional curmudgeon does point out that perhaps Amherst College with its $1.6 billion endowment and owner of the Dickinson Homestead now turned Museum should shoulder the cost.  After all, her grandfather Samuel Dickinson founded Amherst College. 

But Miss Emily does not belong to Amherst College; she belongs to us all.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

More famous than Robert Frost? Maybe. More famous than Uma Thurman? Nah!

LarryK said...

Time will tell. Check back with me in 100 years.

emily limey said...

for 60 k, I hope they'll be guilded

Cowardly Anon Nitwit said...

61,000 for a fence? Let the school pick up another trust fund kid and pay for it, the rest of the world takes care of our properties and that place is rich enough to do so.

LarryK said...

We recently spent $65,000 to refurbish Civil War tablets memorializing those from Amherst who perished to preserve the Union.

Who would you like to bill for that?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, that clearly was a waste. Everyone's got a special interest. I hope you opposed that boondoggle.

LarryK said...

No, actually I supported it; both here and as a voting member of town meeting.

Cowardly Anon Nitwit said...

The armed forces are not comparable to Emily Dickinson. Laying down your life for liberty is far more important, and a public sacrifice to make. Charge AC for the fence.

Anonymous said...

What does Amherst College have to do with it? They own the house, not the body.

Cowardly Anon Nitwit said...

"Although the occasional curmudgeon does point out that perhaps Amherst College with its $1.6 billion endowment and owner of the Dickinson Homestead now turned Museum should shoulder the cost."