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Arrowhead: Melville's Berkshires House

Arrowhead: Melville's Berkshires House
Camille Reddick
Camille Reddick
March 22, 2024

One of the most magnificent places to visit during a Berkshires trip is Arrowhead in Pittsfield MA. Also known as the Herman Melville House, this historic farm and estate showcases the residence where Herman Melville wrote some of his most famous works. Here's what you need to know when planning a visit!

Where Is Arrowhead?

Arrowhead house

Arrowhead is found at 780 Holmes Road in Pittsfield. The home is famous for being the place where Herman Melville finished writing "Moby-Dick." However, the property's history goes back even further.

While Arrowhead was built as a farmhouse and inn by Captain David Bush in the 1780s, the 160-acre estate wasn't purchased by Herman Melville until 1850. He would remain there for 12 years to compose many of his best novels until returning with his family to New York. However, the property stayed in the family because it was actually purchased by the author's brother. In 1975, the Berkshire County Historical Society acquired the home and a large portion of the original acreage. Once under ownership of the Berkshire County Historical Society, the property was restored to look exactly the same way it looked when Melville roamed its halls! It stands today as both a National Historic Landmark and property on the National Register of Historic Places.

Melville's Time at the Property

Arrowhead dolls

While most people are aware that Melville spent time working on his novels during his time at Arrowhead, few may know that the writer lived a true farm existence during his stay. Melville had an ox, horse, cow herd, and Newfoundland dog while at the property. When not writing, he devoted hours to harvesting potatoes, corn, tomatoes, apples, and hay. Long hours were spent plowing the fields and chopping wood. Melville's departure from Arrowhead happened slowly. He first sold roughly 80 acres in order to settle a debt. He would then sell the home and remaining land to his wealthy lawyer brother.

How to Visit the Former Home of Herman Melville in Pittsfield

Arrowhead View

Arrowhead's main season lasts from May through October. During this period, visitors can enjoy daily tours, special programs, hiking trails, and access to the museum shop. The winter season at the estate lasts from Oct. 31 through May 17. During the winter season, the estate is only open for once-weekly tours that take place on Saturdays at 11 a.m.

Enjoying the Beauty and History the Pittsfield Area

When one visits The Berkshires, it comes as no surprise that so many great artists and novelists have chosen this land of rolling hills and unending farmland as a place to be inspired. Other famous artists who have called The Berkshires home over the years include Norman Rockwell, Daniel Chester French, and Edith Wharton. The area still remains home to many artist colonies and theatres today! If a visit to Herman Melville's Arrowhead in Pittsfield MA leaves you feeling inspired to learn more about the art and history of the region, this list of museum experiences in The Berkshires will guide you to all the right stops!