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Ten Intriguing Facts About New England’s Most Iconic College Town

Ten Intriguing Facts About New England’s Most Iconic College Town
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Several factors go into the creation of an exceptional college town, whether it is the community, the scenery, the sporting culture, the education, the fun or everything put together.

Nestled in Hampshire County in the Connecticut River valley, Amherst is a celebrated college town with rich history and culture. This Western Massachusetts small town hosts five colleges, including the University of Massachusetts main campus, Amherst College, and Hampshire College –– giving it a fascinating blend of people, history, and culture.

I have always enjoyed everything about Amherst in the modern day – from the legendary staple Antonio’s Pizza, to the vibrant youthful campus cultures of its three flagship institutions, to its busy commons.

Here are some intriguing facts you probably didn’t know about New England’s most iconic college town –– Amherst, Massachusetts.


10. Robert Frost Lived Here

Robert Frost photo
Photo by USDAgov

The famous poet, Robert Frost (1874-1963), winner of four Pulitzer Prizes taught and retired at Amherst College. Robert Frost was arguably perhaps the most distinguished faculty teacher at Amherst College.

He arrived in 1916 and sporadically taught English at Amherst College for over 40 years. He encouraged his students to account for different intonations and sounds of spoken English in their writing, calling his colloquial language approach ‘the sound of sense.’ He is regarded around the world for his realistic interpretations of rural life and his excellent command of colloquial American speech.

Robert Frost is highly respected in the world as one of the most critically accepted and popular twentieth century American poets with several honors, prizes and awards under his belt, including the 1960 Congressional Gold Medal. In 1961, he was also given the distinguished honor of being named Vermont’s poet laureate.


9. And So Did Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson photo
Photo by Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), one of the most globally recognized and widely celebrated American poets was born and lived here. She studied at the Amherst Academy for over seven years before attending the Mount Holyoke Female Seminary.

Her penchant for white clothing and introverted reluctance to greet people made others think of her as eccentric. Her grandfather, Samuel Dickinson, was one of the eminent founders of Amherst College.

Her presence in the city is widely celebrated, giving rise to the development of the Emily Dickinson Museum, consisting of the Dickinson Homestead and the Evergreens. The Dickinson Homestead was Emily’s birthplace and home.

After her death, many of her poems were discovered in her private bedroom. Her father, Edward Dickinson, built the next-door house in 1856, known as the Evergreens, to share as a wedding present for Austin, her brother.

Located in Amherst, these houses are open to the public through guided tours. The Emily Dickinson Home in Amherst is treated as a national historic landmark in the U.S.


8. There’s a Talent Show for Students Who Want a Good Dorm Room

The Residential Life wing of Amherst College hosts a Lip Sync competition every spring allowing student groups to perform a skit or lip sync dance to a specific chosen song.

The winners from each class are picked based on their level of enthusiasm, lyrical accuracy, creativity, costume and style.

If you’re willing to make a fool of yourself in front of everyone, you’ll get a special reward –– the first pick from a room draw. Unique to the campus, this is one of the most exciting on-campus events that creates an exclusive system for assigning on-campus housing accommodation.

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Lana Pelly Travel expert, writer for America Unraveled.

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