July 26, 2018

Restoring the Walt Whitman Neighborhood in New Jersey

Whitman's home is second from the left on the busy street now-named Martin Luther King Blvd.

I was glad to see a recent article about Walt Whitman's home (a National Historic Landmark) in Camden, New Jersey. It is still there, but the home and the surrounding neighborhood have needed some work.  A $895,730 contract for design work was awarded this month by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection, which owns the structures, to upgrade this historical, literary, and architectural gem.

The Walt Whitman Association is an all-volunteer association that goes back to friends and fans who knew and supported Whitman and his work during his lifetime. The organization has encouraged Whitman studies and promoting the house for the past hundred years. The association diligently lobbied for the “Whitman’s neighborhood” project.

The new plans call for the exteriors of the three houses, including the former home of noted architect Stephen Decatur Button at #332, to be restored to their original appearance. The three interiors are to be re-purposed as exhibit areas and other facilities for visitor and educational programs, as well as association and state park offices.

Whitman bought the house in 1884 and lived there until his death in 1892.

Whitman's surprisingly grand tomb is also in Camden.

The Mickle Street home and its neighbors - other adjoining homes have since been demolished. Image Library of Congress, 1890

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