The house was constructed by his father, who added several architectural quirks that distinguish it from others of its time—including a staircase built with every step of a different height and a penny embedded in the banister. Whitman, who was the second of nine children, lived here with his parents, older brother, and younger sister (grandma stayed over too on occasion) for the first four years of his life, before moving to Brooklyn in 1823.
It was in his birthplace, where his family kept a farm, that he developed his love of nature and admiration for the virtues of day-to-day labor. After Whitman’s family moved out, the house passed through various tenants—some of whom respected its storied origins more than others.
In 1949, it was nearly sold for development before intervention from the newly founded Walt Whitman Birthplace Association, which ran a campaign across Long Island to buy the property. Nowadays, the birthplace is a museum managed by the Association and New York State.
Visitors can get a tour of the place that birthed the father of free verse.
Know Before You Go
Admission to the museum is $8 for adults, $6 for students, and $7 for seniors/military. It isn't very busy, so you're practically guaranteed to get an in-depth, personal tour from the knowledgeable docents. Make sure to ask if you can hear what is thought to be the only recording of Walt Whitman's voice.