Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Ralph Waldo Emerson in Brookline

Ralph Waldo Emerson is most famously associated with Concord and Boston. But did you know that this leading figure in the Transcendentalist movement lived in Brookline for a brief time early in his career?

In May 1830, Emerson, then a young pastor at the Second Church in Boston, moved with his wife Ellen and his mother Ruth to the old Aspinwall House. (The house stood where the Billy Ward Playground, on Aspinwall Avenue opposite St. Paul’s Church, is today.)

Emerson described the lodgings in a letter to his brother William:

“I expect mother in town Thursday or Friday & she will go to Brookline & take possession of our lodgings at Mrs. Perry’s — (in old Aspinwall House where Uncle Ralph lived one summer long ago) where we have a parlor & 3 chambers one for mother one for wife & one for you when you will come & welcome. “ 

It was hoped that the new home would help Ellen recover from tuberculosis, with Emerson’s mother there to keep house. Emerson, however, found it inconvenient “traveling four miles out & home daily” to and from his position at the church. In September, after only four months in Brookline, they moved into Boston. (Ellen would die of tuberculosis in February at the age of 19.)

The old Aspinwall House on Aspinwall Avenue, shown more than half a century after Ralph Waldo Emerson, his wife, and his mother occupied four rooms there in the spring and summer of 1830.
(Brookline Historical Society photo)

No comments:

Post a Comment