House Restoration Receives National Award
The Walt Whitman House in Camden recently
received national recognition for the restoration work on
the historic residence.
The historic site received the Victorian
Society in America's Preservation Award earlier this spring.
The award is presented in recognition of outstanding efforts
to preserve the nation's Victorian heritage and culture.
"New Jersey is fortunate to have so many
historic sites that help bring history alive for present
and future generations. We can be particularly proud of
the careful stewardship of this national treasure and the
positive recognition it brings to the city and the state,"
said State Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)
Commissioner Bob Shinn.
The restoration, completed in November
1998, has won awards from the Preservation Alliance of Philadelphia
and the New Jersey Historic Preservation Office, but this
is the first time the site has been recognized nationally
for its restoration work.
"It was a very humbling experience working
on a project for such a well known literary figure who lived
such an ordinary life," said project architect, Page Ayers
Cowley, FAIA. "The challenge was to keep things simple.
The end result proved to be an extraordinarily rewarding
Poet Walt Whitman (1819-1892) made Camden
his home for the last 19 years of his life. The Walt Whitman
House was the poet's last residence and the only house he
ever owned. He lived there from 1884 until his death in
Due to the international reputation Whitman
had achieved by this period in his life, his years on Mickle
Street in Camden are well documented through photographs
and descriptions of visitors. These were the basis for the
restoration work which included recreating period wallpapers
and carpets and upgrading the heating and cooling system.
Funding for the project was provided by
a grant of $391,600 from the New Jersey Historic Trust,
which was matched with $439,000 from the DEP. The DEP Division
of Parks and Forestry administers the site, which has been
designated a National Historic Landmark. The house contains
much of the original furnishings and personal belongings
The modest row house is emblematic of the
egalitarian spirit of Whitman's poetry. The museum collection
includes letters, photographs, memorabilia, and first editions
of Whitman's "Leaves of Grass." The Walt Whitman House is
open Wednesday through Sunday. For more information, contact
Leo Blake at 856-964-5383.