Pulitzer Prize Poet Edna St. Vincent Millay’s Steepletop, Austerliz, NY
Writer Edna St. Vincent Millay’s home-turned-museum
Where the heart is: A portrait of poet Edna St. Vincent Millay
Photograph by Carl Van Vechten
Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Edna St. Vincent Millay’s legacy is brought back to life with the second full season of tours and events at Steepletop, her former farmhouse home in Austerlitz. Millay, who lived from 1892-1950, was known for her various literary talents: she wrote not only poetry, but plays, political pieces, and a libretto for an opera.
Millay purchased Steepletop in 1925 and resided there until 1950, when she died unexpectedly. After her death, Charles and Norma Millay Ellis — Edna’s brother-in-law and sister — moved into the home, where Norma remained for 36 more years. Although slight alterations occurred during the couple’s tenure, Norma had always envisioned the farmhouse as a museum and tried to change the décor as little as possible.
Edna St. Vincent Millay’s former home, Steepletop, as it appears today
Photograph by Daniel Case
After close to five years of restoration, the home now looks as it did in 1950 — revealing much about how Edna lived and worked. Inside, you can see a number of rooms that portray the author’s unique lifestyle, including the library — whose walls are lined with stacked bookshelves and portraits of Sappho, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Robinson Jeffers, the three poets whom Edna most admired. Steepletop Director Peter Bergman describes the library as “a beautiful and strange room”; it was Edna’s private sanctum that she allowed no one to enter. “On the tours, you get a chance to see where Millay worked, how she wrote, and how she was influenced by her environment,” he says.
This season, Steepletop features an exhibit that gives a first-ever look at portraits created by Charles Ellis. Although he was well known for his acting, Ellis also studied at the Art Students’ League in New York City and had a second career as an abstract figure painter.
For further information on Steepletop, visit www.millay.org.