Frost Homestead Restoration
In 1965, the State of New Hampshire purchased the farmhouse buildings situated on 12.6 acres of land. An early board of governor-appointed trustees took immediate steps to secure the place, and decided to rent it out to a reputable family until major renovations could be undertaken. While fundraising efforts to cover the cost of renovations ensued, studies were made of the site and plans for the landmark property slowly took shape over the next few years. In 1969, two adjacent parcels of land were acquired totaling 47.5 acres that served to protect the homestead's scenic beauty.
With the help of Frost's eldest daughter, Lesley Frost Ballantine and a dedicated group of early trustees and state officials, the restoration process began in earnest in 1974, after the New Hampshire State Legislature appropriated $30,000 by Special Session to help finance the project. All renovations including putting back the pantry, removing a bathroom from under the stairs in the front hall, structural and foundation work, and roof replacement were based on early photographs and other historical and architectural records of the property during the Frost era.
The House: Restoration and Renovation
The commission under Lesley's guidance recreated the homestead as nearly as possible to how it was during the years that the Frost Family lived there. For example, after long and fruitless searches in New York City and elsewhere, the period wallpapers identified by Mrs. Ballantine as the correct patterns for each room were finally located in an old family store in Plymouth, New Hampshire. Rosebud paper was put up in the master bedroom, "oatmeal" patterns in the dining room and front parlor, and a cheery yellow floral in the downstairs "sick room" which also served as the birthing room for Elinor when she brought Carol, Irma and Marjorie into the world. The kitchen wallpaper and the wide-planked wooden floors throughout the downstairs were red because Robert and his wife thought it looked especially nice with the green of their annual Christmas tree.
The soapstone sink in the kitchen, also an original item in the house, is nicked in several places from knife-sharpening by the Frost's (and other inhabitants of the property) over the years. The kitchen also features a large Glenwood woodstove, a party-line wall phone, and a chair next to the stove where Mrs. Frost would sit and rock her little ones.
The furniture in the house represents the original living arrangements as remembered by Robert and Elinor's oldest daughter who personally supervised the furnishings program. The undistinguished pieces representative of those belonging to the family in the first decade of the 20th century, suggest the somewhat simple, family-oriented existence the Frost's had during their residence there. The only exception is the Royal Doulton china (Old Leeds Spray pattern), one of several original items owned by the poet and his wife that are on view at the homestead.
In the parlor sits a replica of the Morris chair that Frost bought while he was a student at Harvard University; such a favorite piece that he carted it from place to place during his various moves over the years. A horsehair-upholstered parlor set also graces the room in which Elinor and Robert home schooled their children and spent pleasant evenings reading together as a family before the children were tucked in for the night.
The property was opened for public visitation in 1975.
Currently under the direction and care of the State of New Hampshire, Division of Parks and Recreation, The Robert Frost Farm is a New Hampshire Historic Site, and listed on the National Registry for historic landmarks of national significance.