The first open house to the public shows the progress of the house over the last six years

Edna St. Vincent Millay House: Before and After

Thu, 12/01/2022 - 11:15am

    ROCKLAND—Five years ago I took a tour of the house where Edna St. Vincent Millay was born in and wrote a story, A peek inside the Rockland house where Edna St. Vincent Millay was born. The Rockland Historical Society bought the property in March 2016 and it has taken more than six years to raise the capital to completely renovate the historic site.

    On Saturday, November 26, 2022, the public was invited to tour the south side of the house, now that it has been completely renovated.

    The north side of the house has been rented out to a tenant to help defray the operating costs of the house. Kathy Onofrio, the Millay House’s treasurer, said they used exclusively local businesses to complete the interior work, including general contractor Kirk Rouge, Green Leaf Roofing, Bunker Hill Flooring, Cayouette Floors, Evergreen Insulation, Marvel Street Painters, Irv’s Drywall, Matt Pietrosky (electric), Don Maxwell (plumbing), Viking and Hammond Lumber, and Kelsey Appliances. The extensive renovations preserved the original woodwork and restored floors, added new walls, a new kitchen, and bathrooms.

    Here’s a before-and-after look at the interior of the house and a bit of back story.

    The living area in 2017. Photo by Kay Stephens
    The refurbished room with donated furniture and a Christmas tree in 2022. Photo by Kay Stephens

    “The Board consulted on every detail, including the color of the walls,” said Onofrio. “We originally had wallpaper, but wanted a more neutral look and it was more cost-effective to paint the walls. We also received donated furniture that would fit in with the era of the house, along with artwork.”

    Another view of the living room in 2022. Photo by Kay Stephens
    All of the books on the living room bookshelf are related somehow to Edna St. Vincent Millay and donated from the Rockland Historical Society. Photo by Kay Stephens

    On the south side apartment, an original stained glass window remains. The one on the north side (the tenant’s side) is long gone, however.


    The narrow stairs up to the second floor have seen a marked improvement from its well-worn state pictured in 2017.  The house was built in 1891 and research show that the first tenants on the north side were Henry Tolman Millay and his wife, Cora Buzzell Millay, Edna’s parents.

    Streetside bedroom in 2017. Photo by Kay Stephens

    So, while the original room where it’s thought Edna St. Vincent Millay was born could not be viewed, there was a room on the south side very similar to it. The original floors were refinished.

    Tiny room at the end of the hallway on the north side might have been Edna’s nursery. Photo by Kay Stephens
    The south side back bedroom will be the quarters for visiting writers. Photo by Kay Stephens

    “This is one of the few houses in Rockland that... still has the original footprint of both sides being mirror images of one another,” said Lisa Westkaemper, the Millay House’s former treasurer.

    Original kitchen in 2017. Photo by Kay Stephens
    renovated kitchen with all new appliances. Photo by Kay Stephens

    The kitchen received extensive renovations. Westkaemper was told this house was right on the cusp of having indoor plumbing when it was built.

    “With a fully renovated kitchen, we are planning on having writing events and a writer-in-residence program,” said event planning volunteer Hannah Wells.

    For more information about Millay House Rockland and upcoming writing events visit:

    Kay Stephens can be reached at