Millay House Rockland has made even more progress in 2020. The group raised $100,000 to meet a challenge from the Davis Family Foundation to be used to rehabilitate the interior of the double house at 198-200 Broadway where American poet Edna St. Vincent Millay was born.

The Davis Family Foundation awarded the group an additional $20,000, and Millay House Rockland has engaged Kirk Rouge of KR Construction to restore the interior of the north side. Work will begin in February 2021.

When the work is completed, Millay House Rockland will rent the north side to provide income and contribute to the housing stock of Rockland.

In the meantime, Millay House Rockland is launching the final phase of fund raising to restore the interior of the south side. Each side is a mirror image of the other; and each side will require $100,000 to make it historically accurate and modestly comfortable.

When fully restored by 2023, Millay House Rockland will use the south side of the double house to honor the legacy of Edna St. Vincent Millay, providing a place for writers to work and interact with the community through workshops and classes for students, teachers, and those who want to publish.

The Ellis Beauregard Foundation of Rockland has agreed to partner with Millay House Rockland to establish a writer-in-residence program. Millay House will provide the space, and Ellis Beauregard will provide a stipend for the writer-in-residence.

When the pandemic is over, Millay House Rockland plans to continue its annual Millay Birthday Celebration at the Farnsworth Art Museum, its annual Millay Arts and Poetry Festival, its dramatic readings of Millay’s poems on the rooftop garden of Harbor Square Gallery, and Poetry Slams at FOG Bar and Café.

Edna St. Vincent Millay was born in the house on Broadway, Feb. 22, 1892. She grew up in Union and Camden, and, after her poetry won national recognition, she was given a scholarship to Vassar. She went on to publish poetry, plays, short stories and the libretto for an opera.

In 1923, she became the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, and during the 1920s and ‘30s her national poetry reading tours made her the most popular woman in America.

Although the house was a local landmark, by 2016 the house was in danger of foreclosure and demolition. With the help of the Rockland Historical Society, Roxanne Quimby, several foundations, and many individuals, the house was saved and its exterior restored. The National Register of Historic Places has recognized the house as an important example of the double houses built in Rockland from the 1830s to 1900 to provide affordable housing for the working class. The house is listed on the National Register as the “Singhi Double Cottage.”

In 1935, the Woman’s Educational Club placed a bronze plaque on the house to mark “the birthplace of the loveliest voice in American poetry;” and in 1966, the Sunday New York Times featured the house in a story titled “Landmarks along a Literary Trail in Maine.”

Treasurer Mary Orear of Millay House Rockland said, “Today, houses in which American artists were born or lived and worked are taking on greater significance as society assigns importance to the impact 'place' has on an artist’s creativity. Millay’s upbringing in midcoast Maine had a profound effect on her life and her poetry. Throughout her life, Millay used imagery from her early years to enrich her writing.”

Board president Ann Morris pointed out that “the Millay House provides a unique opportunity to recognize the importance of the architecture of the blue-collar workers who were the backbone of the Rockland economy, and to celebrate the literary heritage of Maine.”