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NJ DEPT. OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION NEWS RELEASE
RELEASE: 6/21/01
01/76
CONTACT: Sharon A. Southard or Amy Collings
(609) 984-1795 or 609-292-2994

Walt Whitman 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 experience."

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 1892.

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 of Whitman.

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.

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NJHT: Walt Whitman House Photo

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