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The Dickinson Homestead is one of the few remaining artifacts directly associated with Emily Dickinson and her family, who advanced Amherst as an educational, cultural, and economic center of Western Massachusetts. One of the first brick homes in Amherst, the Homestead was built around 1813 for Emily Dickinson's grandfather, Samuel Fowler Dickinson, a principal founder of Amherst College. Her father Edward, who owned the house from 1855 until his death in 1874, was a prominent town lawyer and state legislator who brought many improvements to Amherst, including the railroad. The Homestead is part of the Dickinson Historic District, a cluster of large mid-19th-century buildings located east of the Amherst town center.
Emily Dickinson was born here in 1830 lived here for all but fifteen years of her life. For Dickinson, her home and the surrounding acreage constituted her world. In her later years she rarely left the bounds of the property and wrote most of her poetry here. She died in the house in 1886. From 1915 to 1965 the house was owned by the Parkes, another Amherst family. In 1964 the building was designated a National Historic Landmark. The house was purchased in 1965 by Amherst College, which today operates the home as a museum dedicated to educating the public about the poet's life and work.