I hope I’m not going to bore you with yet another house, but Rhe’s interest in old buildings is also mine. This one is famous not only for its history, but because it was depicted in Andrew Wyeth’s iconic Christina’s World.
Olson House is a 14-room colonial farmhouse in Cushing. It was built in the late 1700s by Captain Samuel Hathorn II and was substantially altered in 1871 by Captain Samuel Hathorn IV. These alterations included the addition of several bedrooms on the third floor and the construction of a steeply pitched roof. Christina Olson and Alvaro Olson, descendants of the Captains Hathorn, inherited the property in 1929 from their mother Kathe Hathorn. Christina and Alvaro Hathorn were depicted in numerous paintings and sketches by Wyeth from 1939 to 1968.
Anna Christina Olson is thought to have suffered from polio, but based on her symptoms, was more likely afflicted with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, a genetic disorder characterized by a progressive wasting away of the muscles, paralysis, and loss of sensation beginning in late childhood or early adulthood. Wyeth was inspired to create the painting when he saw her crawling across a field while he was watching from a window in the house.
After Christina’s death in 1968, the house was purchased by movie director Joseph E. Levine, an admirer of Wyeth’s work. Levine operated the house as a museum for two years starting in 1971 but local residents opposed this use. The house was then purchased by Apple CEO John Sculley, who put the house up for sale in 1989; he eventually donated the house to the Farnsworth Art Museum 1991. This museum has one of the nation’s largest collections of the paintings of the Wyeth family: N.C., Andrew, and Jamie. It maintains the houses as a facility open to the public.
The house was designated as a National Historical Landmark in June 2011.
I have myself visited the Farnsworth Museum, just to see the Wyeth family paintings, and the experience was unforgettable. An “F” for another day!