Our Own Famous Poet

Featured, Human Interest, The Buzz

Millay House Rockland is embarking on the final phase of restoration of the double house at 198-200 Broadway where American poet Edna St. Vincent Millay was born. Millay grew up in Union and Camden and after her poetry won national recognition, she was given a scholarship to Vassar. She went on to publish poetry, plays, and the libretto for an opera. In 1923 she became the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. During the 1920s and ‘30s, her national poetry reading tours made her the most popular woman in America.

The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the “Singhi Double Cottage” in recognition of its significance as a fine example of the double houses built in Rockland during the nineteenth century to provide affordable housing for the working class. In 1935, the Woman’s Educational Club placed a bronze plaque on the house to mark the birthplace of “the loveliest voice in American poetry;” and in 1966 the Sunday New York Times featured the house in a story titled “Landmarks along a Literary Trail in Maine.”

Edna St Vincent Millay

In 2016, Restoration Resources restored the exterior of the house, and Maritime Energy replaced the heating system. In 2018 Phi Builders & Architects gutted both insides. In 2020 Kirk Rouge of K R Construction restored the North Side interior, and Green Leaf Roofing donated the labor for a new roof. Hammond Lumber provided a discount for kitchen cabinets and building supplies. Kelsey’s Appliances provided a discount for kitchen appliances.

Millay House Rockland will rent the completed North Side beginning this winter. Renting the North Side will add to the housing stock of Rockland and produce income to cover building expenses, including property taxes for the City of Rockland.

Her house at 198-200 Broadway in Rockland, Maine

With money in the bank, the nonprofit will start work on the South Side of the double house in March of 2022. The South Side is a mirror image of the North Side, so the planning will be easy. Millay House Rockland hopes to raise the final $45,000 needed with donations from local residents, local businesses, and Millay lovers.

When the south side is restored, it will be used for a writer-in-residence program in partnership with the Ellis Beauregard Foundation. Donna McNeil, director of Ellis Beauregard, says the foundation will provide a stipend for the writer-in-residence because the foundation’s mission is to support artists in Rockland. When the restoration is completed Millay House Rockland will work with other literary arts organizations to sponsor classes, workshops, and author events to celebrate Maine poets and authors.

The houses in which American authors were born or lived and worked are taking on greater significance as society assigns importance to the impact that “place” has on the creativity of artists. Millay’s upbringing by a single mother in reduced circumstances, in a small seacoast town in Maine had a profound effect on her life and her poetry. Throughout her life, Millay used imagery from those years in her poetry.

To make a donation toward the final goal – for kitchen cabinets or appliances, for bathroom fixtures, for dry wall or paint, send a check to: Millay House Rockland, P. O. Box 831, Rockland, ME 04841.

Or visit GoFundMe, and search for “Millay House Rockland.”