Thursday, October 30, 2008

In Search of Literary San Antonio

In July of 2008, my wife and I visited friends San Antonio, Texas. While we were there, my friend, Tom Davis a professor at San Antonio College, helped me track down three literary sites in San Antonio. The first two locations we visited were the residences of Robert Frost and his family members during the winter of 1936-37. Frost and his wife decided to take a break from their winters in Key West, Florida when his daughter moved to Mexico. However, due to an unusually harsh winter, Frost decided not to return to San Antonio after that year.

Robert Frost was born in San Francisco in 1874 and moved to Lawrence, Massachusetts. He was enrolled at Dartmouth College in 1892, and later spent some time at Harvard His first professional poem, "My Butterfly," was published on November 8, 1894, in the New York newspaper The Independent. In 1895, Frost married Elinor Miriam White and together moved to England in 1912. While in England, Frost published two full-length collections of poems and returned to the United States in 1915. By the nineteen-twenties, he was the most celebrated poet in America -- his work is principally associated with the life and landscape of New England. Frost was awarded four Pulitzer Prizes for his books of poetry. He died in Boston on January 29, 1963.

For more on Robert Frost, the Frost Cottage in Key West, and the Robert Frost Poetry Festival see my Eye On Literature posting of TUESDAY, MARCH 11, 2008:
The Robert Frost Cottage in Key West, Florida

Click here to watch the You Tube Video 

The third literary landmark in San Antonio we visited was the O. Henry House. O. Henry was the pen name of William Sydney Porter whose short stories are famous for their ironic endings. He was born in 1862 on a plantation in Greensboro, North Carolina. In 1882, he moved to Texas, where he held various jobs, including that of a ranch hand. Two years later, he moved to Austin, and in 1887, he married a local girl, Athol Estes, who was only seventeen years old. In 1895, Porter was accused of embezzlement for the time he worked as a teller at the First National Bank of Austin. Although he denied the charges, he was arrested and skipped bail before the trial began. O. Henry spent part of 1895-1896 in San Antonio, Texas working on his magazine The Rolling Stone. The house itself was relocated from the old Lone Star Brewing Company site to the corner of Laredo and Dolorosa and is managed by the San Antonio Conservation Society. In May of 1999 the restored O. Henry House was reopened to the public.

For more on O. Henry and his time in Austin, Texas, visit my posting at:

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Ernest Hemingway Home in Key West, Florida

On March 7, 2008, I visited the Ernest Hemingway Home in Key West, Florida. Hemingway purchased the house on Whitehead Street in Key West and owned the property for thirty years from 1931 until his death in 1961. He actually lived in the house for ten years and wrote many of his novels in his studio which was located in the carriage house. A cat walk once connected the two structures but was blown down during one of the many hurricanes that passed through Key West. The surrounding gardens are also home to the first swimming pool ever built in Key West. The interior of the main house still holds many antiques and art work that Hemingway collected on his trips to Europe and Africa. The main house was built in 1851 by Asa Tift, a marine salvage specialist. Guided tours of the house and grounds are available daily.

To visit the website of the Hemingway Home
click on this link:

Click here to view the movie of my visit to the Hemingway Home

Here is an interview with Linda, manager of the bookstore at the Hemingway Home:

Photos by Sue Minassian

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Robert Frost Cottage in Key West, Florida

Professor Michael Minassian at the Robert Frost Cottage in Key West, Florida

Photo by Sue Minassian

The Robert Frost Cottage in Key West, Florida is part of the Heritage House Museum at 410 Caroline Street, Key West. The Porter family home contains original furnishings, antiques, artifacts, books, and paintings which were collected by seven generations of the family. Frost's wife convinced him to accept Jessie Porter's invitation to spend time in the cottage behind the main house. The Frosts spent the next sixteen winters there.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Jack Kerouac House in Orlando, Florida - written and produced by Michael Minassian

Jack Kerouac is the most famous of the Beat Generation novelists. The author of On the Road and Dharma Bums, Kerouac lived in Orlando and later in St. Petersburg where he died in 1969. The Kerouac House is located in the College Park area of Orlando and was largely forgotten until reporter Bob Kealing came across the house in 1996 and wrote a book entitled Kerouac in Florida: Where the Road Ends. Kealing was also one of the founders of the Kerouac Project which bought the house and created a writer in residence program there. The house has since been declared a historic site and is the sole literary landmark in Orlando.

Watch the You Tube video posted here.

Kerouac did not actually own the house, but he rented rooms in the back of the house and lived there with his mother during part of 1957 and 1958. I was lucky enough to see the inside of the house while I was there and we were able to take several photographs (all photos by Sue Minassian) of the interior and exterior. The Kerouac Project now owns the house and sponsors a writers in residence program. Check out their web site at:

The poem I read in the podcast was published in the Spring 2007 issue (Vol. 4, No. 1) of The Dos Passos Review.

You can visit their web site at:

While searching for images of Jack Kerouac, I came across this photograph of Bob Dylan and the poet Allen Ginsberg visiting Kerouac's grave in Lowell, Massachusetts:

For more information about the Beat Generation Writers and Poets visit:

Here are some more photos of the exterior and interior of the house:

All photos by Sue Minassian (2007).
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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Flannery O'Connor Home - Savannah, GA

Michael Minassian at the Flannery O'Connor Home, December 2007

Photo by Sue Minassian

Click here to watch the Movie on You Tube:

The author Flannery O'Connor (1924-64) was born a few blocks from this house and spent the first thirteen years of her life at this location in a quiet Savannah neighborhood. In 1947, she graduated from the Writer's Workshop at the University of Iowa with a Master's degree in Fine Arts.

Flannery O'Connor standing next to a self-portrait.

O'Connor is known as a Southern Gothic writer and is the author or two novels - Wise Blood (1952) and The Violent Bear It Away (1960) - but she is best known for her collections of short stories A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories (1955) and Everything That Rises Must Converge (published posthumously in 1965).

Photo by Sue Minassian

The Flannery O'Connor Home is located at 207 E. Charlton St., Savannah, Georgia. The house itself dates from 1856 and is a part of the Savannah area which has been designated a National Historic Landmark.

The house is open to the public on weekends only from 1-4 P.M. On December 23, 2007, we visited the house and spoke to Docent Toby Aldrich. After a tour of the living quarters, we set up our camera in front of the fireplace and Toby answered questions about O'Connor's life and career. The house is maintained by The Flannery O'Connor Childhood Home Foundation. For more information visit:

Another good site for information about Flanner O'Connor's life is the web site of the Andalusia Farm in Milledgeville, Georgia where she spent the last thirteen years of her life: