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Home of Openly Gay Poet James Merrill Designated a National Landmark

The James Merrill House in Stonington, Conn., is being designated as a national historic landmark. Named after openly gay writer James Merrill, the house is among 10 properties newly recognized as having exceptional value to the nation.

Image: This is an exterior shot of the James Merrill House at 107 Water St. in Stonington Borough, Connecticut
This is an exterior shot of the James Merrill House at 107 Water St. in Stonington Borough, Connecticut on March 17, 2012. Photograph by the current writer-in-residence via Wikimedia

“These 10 new national historic landmarks reveal important pieces of our nation’s diverse heritage through art, architecture and stories of community and identity,” U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell stated Wednesday. “Today’s designation ensures future generations can trace, understand and learn from these properties, which join more than 2,500 other landmarks nationwide.”

The James Merrill House, according to the statement issued by the U.S. Department of the Interior, "is nationally significant for its association with one of the most significant American writers of the second half of the 20th century."

Merrill, who died in 1995, had a long, prolific and award-winning career. He won every major award for poetry in the U.S., including a Pulitzer Prize and two National Book Awards. And, as Wednesday's statement noted, his work did not shy away from LGBTQ issues.

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"Over time, he introduced more radical material into his poetry, including well-crafted examination about homosexuality, art and spiritualism. He wrote with subtlety and sympathy of gay life, illuminating its anxieties and fulfillments."

The James Merrill House joins a handful of other national historic landmarks with LGBTQ significance, including the Henry Gerber House in Chicago and the Stonewall Inn in New York City.

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