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Emily Dickinson Museum

Location: Amherst, Massachusetts

Notable Owner: Emily Dickinson

Period: 1813 - 1856

National Historic Landmark

Emily Dickinson

The Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst, Massachusetts consists of two historic houses, the Homestead and the Evergreens, connected by a common landscape.  The Homestead (c.1813) was home to Emily Dickinson for the majority of her adult life. 

MCWB was hired to develop a master plan to meet the Museum’s desire to develop a long-range plan for the future development of the site with the vision of it becoming the premier location for Dickinson study.  The master plan focused on both the physical fabric of the site as well as the administration of it.  The core of the document focused on four principal subjects affecting operation and development of the Museum; site stewardship, existing conditions, collections management and site improvements.

In the spring of 2007 in conjunction with Quantum Engineering, the firm designed and managed the installation of fire detection equipment in both the Homestead and the Evergreens, as well as extensive rewiring of the Homestead’s electrical system.  Rewiring of the building required the careful removal of wallpaper and plaster in selected locations and reinstallation after services were run.

In the fall of 2007 MCWB Architects began work on a historic structure report for the Evergreens.  Objectives included recording the chronological evolution of the building, identifying major renovations and redecorating campaigns and documenting the history of the buildings.  Recordation of the existing conditions included measuring and drawing the building as well as close inspection of the building fabric.  Experts in such fields as dendrochronology, historic wallpapers and paint analysis were enlisted as part of the investigation team to answer specific questions uncovered during the survey of the Evergreens.  Based on the conditions observed, prioritized treatment recommendations were developed to guide the museum in the future restoration of the building. 

Work performed between 2012 and 2015 consisted of the exterior restoration of the Evergreens and restoration of Emily Dickinson’s bedroom at The Homestead.  Both projects began with a careful study of the existing conditions and review of archival documents.  Recommendations for repairs grew out of the information generated from these studies. 

The firm has just completed the restoration of Edward Dickinson’s library and the reconstruction of the conservatory at the Homestead.

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