Explore the Center and its Grounds

The Massachusetts Center for Renaissance Studies occupies the grounds of the former 28-acre estate of Winthrop Saltonstall Dakin, a local attorney, and his wife, Janet Wilder Dakin, the youngest sister of the playwright Thornton Wilder. The research institute and classrooms are housed in their brick home built in the style of a Renaissance cottage in Shakespeare's Warwickshire. It is also the site for conferences , seminars, lectures, dramatic performances, and concerts.

The institute has one of the largest collections of rare books in the Northeast--many of them unique in the world--which are available to scholars, students, and the public for research. There is also a general Reading Room, Visiting Fellows offices, and the Cheney and Swanson Rooms used for classes. A publications office houses Massachusetts Studies in Early Modern Culture (a book series) and the journals English Literary Renaissance and the Sidney Journal. The five-college area has over 100 scholars in residence in Renaissance studies in addition to the Center's Visiting Fellows and graduate students who constitute an active community of learning.

The Center is home to many gardens which follow the design and plantings of the Renaissance period. They include a formal knot garden given by the University of Massachusetts, Hampshire College and individual donors; the herb garden given by Smith College; the Scholar's Retreat Garden, given by the University's Alumni Association; the Bernard Spivack Shakespeare Garden; and the Walter Chmielewski Performance Garden used for dramatic performances and poetry readings.

Renaissance Garden Project

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