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The Ann Spencer House & Garden Museum

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The home of Edward and Anne Spencer at 1313 Pierce Street is a two-story modified Queen Anne style shingle residence. Its two-bay facade is divided equally between a recessed section, covered with a hipped roof, and a slightly projecting gable-roofed bay to the right. At the first floor, a front porch continues as a covered pergola along the side. The porch floor and front walk are painted a black and gray alternating pattern and original painted wicker chairs and lounges invite guests to sit and chat, just as they did during the 72 years the Spencers lived there. As attractive as the home is today, its importance is more about the former inhabitants than it is about the house.

The front hall of the house reveals themes central to Anne Spencer's life. The use of color and mirrors bring the outside in, creating a garden of light and colors on the interior of the Spencer home. Edward's innovations are evident even in this small space-there's a phone booth tucked under the staircase, arched doorways, leading into the front hall and leading into the living room. Crown molding graces the ceiling and doorways. Photos of family complete for space with rows and stacks of books, illustrating Spencer's love for the people in her life and her love of reading, thinking, and writing. A small photograph of Spencer dressed in Native American garb illustrates her pride in her own ethnic diversity and in her belief in the dignity of all people. A map of the Trail of Tears in an upstairs bedroom further underscores Spencer's abhorrence of oppressive forces.

The restoration of Anne Spencer's garden was adopted as a project by Hillside Garden Club in September 1983. The original garden, with its young shrubs and trees, was an open, sunny garden with masses of flowers and grass paths. To reproduce this after years of growth was not possible or practical. However, the garden framework is authentic, as substantiated by the many old photographs and family memories, and effectively captures the spirit of the garden from the late 1930s. Many of the bulbs, flowers, and shrubs and all of the roses are Anne Spencer's own plants. Additional flowers were shared by garden club members from their own gardens. The first restoration was substantially completed by June 1984 and received statewide recognition in 1987 with the Common Wealth Award from the Garden Club of Virginia. With the publication of the story of the garden restoration in the national magazine, The American Horticulturist (October 1987), the garden became a nationally recognized rehabilitation effort.

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