The Simeon Strong house is one of the oldest surviving homes in Amherst.
The original simple saltbox house was constructed by Nehemiah Strong in 1750 and updated by his son Simeon into a fashionable home. Simeon was the town moderator, treasurer, and selectman. He would later become Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court in 1800.
The last family to own the home were the Emersons. They wanted to keep the home true to its historical authenticity, so they never added central heating. Eventually, world traveler and social powerhouse Mabel Loomis Todd convinced Sarah Emerson to deed a portion of the home to the newly formed Amherst Historical Society. Emerson had few requirements before she committed to the deal. Emerson’s bedroom had to remain untouched until the day the last family member died, which occurred in 1916.
The Emerson parlor and upstairs bedroom offer Victorian displays, while other galleries present exhibits of past and present community life. Outside the museum is the surviving giant “groom” tree, one of two sycamores planted by Nehemiah Strong. It was a common way to celebrate a new marriage during the 18th century. The “bride” tree fell in the 1950s due to a hurricane, but in 2023 a companion sycamore was planted to continue the tradition.
The best-known object amid the house’s 7,000-item collection is a white dress owned and worn by Emily Dickinson.
Know Before You Go
The Amherst Historical Society Museum is open on Saturdays from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. Board members are always willing to arrange private tours.