Walt Whitman is one of American literature’s most prominent voices and a revered figure in Camden and surrounding areas. Whitman only owned one home in his life – the modest wooden-framed Greek revival house in downtown Camden. Built in 1848 and purchased by Whitman in 1884, this is where the legendary American poet composed some of his most famous works and rose to international prominence as one of the world’s greatest writers. He remained here until his death in 1892. Today, the home is open to the public as a museum that allows you to take a peek into what life was like for Whitman as a writer in 19th century Camden. Our New Jersey adoption professionals think this is a great destination for an educational family field trip.
History of the Home
Whitman purchased the home on Mickle Street during his twilight years, when his health had begun to decline. He was 65 when he bought the home and lived there for the final 7+ years of his life. During his time there, some other literary giants came to visit him – including Oscar Wilde and Bram Stroker. Whitman was able to purchase this home with money he made from the success of the 1882 edition of Leaves of Grass, which had originally been published in 1855. During his time in Camden, Whitman befriended a Philadelphia artist named Thomas Eakins. They would remain friends until Whitman’s death and Eakin photographed Whitman and painted his portrait.
Conversion to a Historic Landmark
After Whitman passed away in 1892, the majority of the home’s objects remained untouched. His heirs eventually sold the home to the city of Camden in 1921 and it was opened to the public in 1926. In 1947, the state of New Jersey took ownership of the home. The home was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966 and in the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Historic Preservation Office in 1971.
The neighborhood surrounding the home was officially designated as the Walt Whitman Neighborhood in 1970 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.
The New Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry operates the six-room house as a museum open to the public today. Notable objects include the bed where Whitman died and the death notice that was nailed to a door in the home. We recommend going with a tour guide to get the most out of your visit with added context for what you’re seeing as you tour the home.