The Robert Frost Stone House Museum, located in Shaftsbury, Vermont, will open to the public in after Labor Day in early September 2002. The museum is located on Historic Route 7A where Frost lived in the 1920’s and wrote one of his most famous poems, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” The new museum will feature exhibits about Frost’s life and poetry with a special gallery to celebrate the great poem Frost wrote at the dining room table on a warm June morning in 1922. Frost called this poem, “my best bid for remembrance.”
Robert Frost came to Shaftsbury in 1920 at the height of his career as a poet. He owned two farms during the twenty-year period he lived there. During the first nine years at the Stone House, Frost wrote two books of poetry and won his first Pulitzer Prize. He was awarded three of his four Pulitzers during the Shaftsbury years.
The Stone House is owned by The Friends of Robert Frost, a national organization, founded by Carole Thompson of Bennington, Vermont. The property was acquired this past spring and the work to turn the residence into a museum is being completed over the summer. Ms. Thompson says, “We want to introduce the public to our new museum in time for the foliage season. It was Frost’s favorite time of year. The house looks wonderful in autumn colors.”
We asked Miss Thompson what inspired the idea of a Frost museum in Shaftsbury? She said, “Well, Frost lived the second half of his life in Vermont and he is buried in Bennington. That is a great honor for Vermont. His poetry still resonates in our beautiful landscape. You feel like you are living in a Frost poem when you visit Vermont. Every year, about twenty thousand people visit his grave site behind the Old First Church in Old Bennington. So, we thought a museum to honor his life was a good idea. The Stone House is the perfect place because he lived there and wrote some of his most memorable poems during the Shaftsbury period. It’s a beautiful historic house that dates back to 1769.”
There will be daily poetry readings at 2:00 o’clock and special events during the Frost Fortnight that starts on opening day and runs for three weekends. A walk on the grounds reveals many Frostian images including stone walls, birch trees, fields and woods, and some of Frost’s original apple trees.
Robert Frost continues to be America’s favorite poet. He was awarded 44 honorary degrees from the world’s most prestigious colleges and universities in recognition of his poetry and won the Pulitzer Prize an unprecedented four times. He was the first inaugural poet for John F. Kennedy in 1961 and traveled to Russia and South America as a good-will ambassador of American culture.
The museum will also feature the woodcut art of J.J. Lankes who worked with Frost during the Shaftsbury years “decorating” Frost’s books of poetry. Lankes’ simple black and white designs were drawn from the living landscape and many are geographically correct and still recognizable today. The museum is offering a limited edition poster of a Lankes print featuring the Stone House standing beside a wheel rutted dirt road, which is now known as state road 7A. The design was made in 1923 as a personal bookplate for Frost.
The Friends of Robert Frost is a national organization created to appeal to Frost’s popular audience. Membership supports the Stone House Museum. Visit the website at www.FrostFriends.org to find out more about Frost and the goals of the organization.
The property can be reached by going north of Bennington on Rt. 7. Take Exit 2 for Shaftsbury and turn right at the end of the ramp onto Historic Route 7A. The museum is 7/10ths of a mile north on the left side of the road. The museum will be open through December 31. Hours of visitation are Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $5.00 for adults and half price for young people less than 18 years old. A small bookshop will offer books, posters, postcards and print reproductions of the Lankes collection. Call (802) 447-6200 for further information.