Ninety-Nine (and Some Thousand) Books on the Wall

For the people: America's iconic "everyperson" poet would be glad that admission to his home is free on August 25--the 99th birthday of the National Park Service. (photo used courtesy of the Carl Sandburg Home.)

For the people: America’s iconic “everyperson” poet would be glad that admission to his home is free on August 25–the 99th birthday of the National Park Service. (photo used courtesy of the Carl Sandburg Home.)

Connemara is like Biltmore Estate for bluestockings. Not fancy, but deep. When America’s quintessential everyperson poet Carl Sandburg and his family retired to Flat Rock, they built a legacy of stewardship all their own.

Administered by the National Park Service as a historic site since 1974 and often simply called the Carl Sandburg Home, Connemara is at once imposing and humble, a sprawling white frame house on 30 acres and the shelter of Paula Sandburg’s prizewinning dairy goats, whose descendants have been dubbed a “heritage herd.”

Sandburg picked up quite a few prizes of his own during his iconic career, including a Pulitzer. Though he’s known as the premier native poet of Chicago, the prolific author wrote the bulk of his output at Connemara, including a multi-volume Lincoln biography.

Carl, Paula, and their three daughters weren’t much for ornamentation. Preserved in its original décor, the house is a tableau of Scandinavian-derived thrift. However, in place of grand oils or pendulous chandeliers, the interior boasts nearly 50,000 pounds of books.

Get a free peek at the intellectual life of one the 20th century’s most progressive literary minds on August 25, when the Flat Rock site offers free admission. The occasion is the 99th birthday of the National Park Service. Somewhere, the always-egalitarian Sandburg is nodding in approval.

www.nps.gov/carl

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