Where Poetry Bloomed

Field technician Jill Zuckerman, right, and Jackie Monsell '16 (anthropology) measure an excavation at the Emily Dickinson Homestead.

Field technician Jill Zuckerman, right, and Jackie Monsell '16 (anthropology) measure an excavation at the Emily Dickinson Homestead.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

A conservatory filled with plants brought the natural world into poet Emily Dickinson’s home and served as a means for her to remain in touch with others. Nearly a century after this conservatory was dismantled, the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst plans to bring it back to further recreate the environment in which Dickinson flourished as a poet.

The effort started on May 31, when  five archaeologists from UMass Archaeological Services began a three-day project to locate the conservatory’s original foundation and discover artifacts buried in the soil. Such a survey is a requirement of the Massachusetts Historical Commission whenever subsurface work is done at the historic site.

“Our task was to see if the foundation was actually there,” said Tim Barker, field director for the archaeological team. “We have identified that the lower course of foundation is still there.”

The archaeological work, which could be observed by visitors to the museum, comes at a time when the museum has its garden days, which begin Sunday and run through June 11. Volunteers can work under the direction of a landscape historian, Marta McDowell. To sign up, contact program coordinator Lucy Abbott at labbott@emilydickinsonmuseum.org or 542-2034.

Read the full story by Scott Merzbach in the Daily Hampshire Gazette. View a photo gallery on the UMass website.