The Millay House Rockland
restoring the Birthplace of Edna St. Vincent Millay
Imagine, Rockland, Maine in 1891, a rough and tumble sea coast city, booming with rapidly expanding industries - lime, shipping, fishing. Duplexes were springing up to meet the demand for work force housing. This is where our story about a little red head begins. Edna St. Vincent Millay was born in a double-house at 198/200 Broadway, during a raging snowstorm, on February 22, 1892. The house was new and the first occupants of the northside were Henry Tolman Millay and his wife, Cora Buzzell Millay.
In 1934, the story continues with the Rockland's Women's Educational Club. These women knew it was important to commemorate the poet and her birthplace, and they raised funds, one penny at a time, to place a commemorative wooden marker on the house. Their fundraising efforts exceeded their expectations and they were able to upgrade to a bronze plaque - and this was during the Great Depression.
"I am very pleased and touched that so many women
in the city in which I was born should wish to honour me in this way."
- Letter from Millay to Mrs. Perry Rich, President of Women's Educational Club.
Years pass, the plaque is removed, the house is used much as any other house on the street, maybe even more so and sadly falls into disrepair. In 2015, the next chapter of the story begins with a group of neighbors and friends who met to tour a funky old falling down bright blue disaster of a sad house that was in danger of foreclosure, condemnation, and demolition. They remember, this is the house where Edna St. Vincent Millay was born.
In November of 2015 the Free Press wrote a wonderful article that outlined the dilemma of the house. A rescue mission. Roxanne Quimby saw that article and was very intrigued by the possibilities. She drove to Rockland that afternoon, met with one of the friends about the house, and the rest, as they say, is history. An act of saving a place for heritage conservation, and cultural tourism.
Fundraising efforts allowed the restoration of the exterior of the house to begin. It's not blue anymore. It's not sad anymore. It's not falling down anymore. It's not in danger of being torn down anymore. But, that's not the end of the story because we still have a great deal of work to do.
In 2017 we begin the next chapter, preserving this landmark, the birthplace of Edna St. Vincent Millay. The interior needs to be restored. The plumbing, the electrical systems, the plaster, the wood floors. It all needs attention and we need your help to make that happen. Please consider donating to our building fund.
Millay House Rockland
We have established a literary organization, called Millay House Rockland, "To preserve the birthplace of Edna St. Vincent Millay and celebrate her legacy through education, the literary arts, and significant collaborations within the Maine community and beyond." That was a mission statement, could you tell?
"We envision an organization that inspires knowledge and appreciation of the life and work of Edna St. Vincent Millay, ensures quality education in the literary and fine arts, and encourages poets, writers, artists and other members of our creative community." That was a vision statement, could you tell that, too?
So, how are we doing all that? We are partnering with some of the finest organizations in the state. Organization that work with young people K-12 age, organizations that educate university students, organizations that reach out into the adult writers community. Partners with our Writers in Residence programs, partners in the community, and partners in the state. Partners who all believe in the power of words. Partners who are going to help us further her legacy and accomplish our mission.
On September 7, 8, & 9 of 2017 we will produce our first (hopefully annual) Millay Arts and Poetry Festival. The festival is a 3 day series of 35 events, featuring more than 80 performers; authors, presenters, poets, actors, musicians, and visual artists. It is a celebration of the art and legacy of Edna St. Vincent Millay, because after all, Vincent was all of those things and more. She was a poet, but she was also a musician, a singer, an actress, a playwright, a librettist, an activist and a feminist. Join us!
Rockland is now recognized as a mecca for artists and their patrons. We are proud to be a part of this artistic and cultural Renascence. The story continues!
Officers of the Board of Directors
Thomas O'Donovan, President
Steve Cartwright, Vice-President
Dr. Lisa Westkaemper, Treasurer
Michelle Gifford, Secretary