Monday, July 16, 2012

THE OLSON HOUSE

Yes indeed, this is the Olson House located off the beaten path in Cushing, Maine. It is the location of Andrew Wyeth's painting Christina's World. This saltwater farm house was home to "Anna" Christina and her brother Alvaro. At 17, Betsy James introduced Andrew (her soon to be husband) to the Olson's. Betsy described the home as "looming like a weathered ship stranded on a hilltop." This three story home is one of my favorite places to visit. If you are a admirer of Artist Andrew Wyeth you must add this home to your list of places to visit while in Maine. 300 of Wyeth's paintings were done in this old home. Images of paintings are framed and found throughout the rooms giving visitors an idea of what Wyeth saw. Most of the rooms are found empty with the exception being a lone chair. In the kitchen however, the original wood stove along with Alvaro and Christina's rocking chairs are found. On the kitchen windowsill, glass shelves hold Christina's beloved red geraniums. Wyeth documented life on the farm in many of his works. "The windows are eyes or pieces of the soul almost." "Each window is part of Christina's life."


One May day Andrew saw Christina dragging herself out to pick flowers from her garden. Paralyzed from the waist down, with an unknown medical condition, life was not easy for Christina. Alvaro took on the role of main caregiver and neither he nor Christina married. Wyeth took artistic license while painitng Christina's World. He separated the barn further from the house, and omitted the tree line which formed the horizen. 30 year old Betsy was used as his model, however, the gnarled hands and arms belong to 55 year old to Christina.

The Olson House, with all it's history is amazing. To stand in a room and look through the old wavy glass windows, to visualize what Wyeth saw, can take your breath away. I recommend the one hour guided tour and photography is permitted... Gazing out an upstairs window, looking across the street, over a field, on the edge of the Atlantic ocean...


a small cemetery is found...Christina and Alvaro are buried, together in one grave...

and with a simple black headstone, Mr. Wyeth too.

18 comments:

earlene said...

I LOVE History and what a great story!
Thanks for sharing.

earlene said...

What a great story.
Isn't history grand!

Primitive Stars said...

Hi Julie, so interesting,thanks for sharing, enjoyed very much. Blessings Francine.

Farm Girl said...

Wow this is so weird, I was just thinking about this painting the other day. I was thinking about Christina and Andrew Wyeth. I didn't know the house from it from the photo though. I didn't know it was in Maine. Now there is somewhere else I have to go visit when I come to Maine.
I am so glad you shared your photos. Thank you so much.

annie said...

Oh this was just a fantastic post, thanks so much for sharing. I'd love to go there!

Pondside said...

I saw the painting in the Brandywine Museum many years ago - what a work of art. I'm glad to have seen the house now too!

Chris said...

Wonderful post!! I just saw a Wyeth exhibit in Columbia, SC a couple of months ago. So lovely!

Mugwump Woolies said...

Wonderful tale....thanks for taking us along!
Robyn

Freckled Hen said...

This is lovely, I love their story and the house is so pretty...I'll add this to my list of places to go!

Ocean Breezes and Country Sneezes said...

I never knew the story about that painting-amazing! Thanks for a great tour!

Patty Patterson said...

It's beautiful! You took great pictures, too! Thanks for showing us this precious little piece of history!

Janice said...

Thanks for the interesting historical info. I love the look of that grand old house.

Terry and Linda said...

What a wonderful post! I just love history and you live where History is so THERE! Thank you so much for this post!!!


Linda
http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com
http://deltacountyhistoricalsociety.wordpress.com

Melody said...

Ah ha! And the mystery is solved! I like Andrew Wyeth paintings; I have a large print of "Master Bedroom" that hangs in our home. Thanks for the lovely tour! :)))

Deppen homestead 1862 said...

Touching history~ beautiful place~
thanks for sharing~
smiles
Teresa

Vickie said...

I am a painter myself, and if I ever get up that way, I've always wanted to tour that house. Love Andrew Wyeth. My husband and I are trying to plan a Newe England trip in the near future...

From Beyond My Kitchen Window said...

I love that New England has so much history. This was a great post. I love learning new things.

Peacemom said...

Julie, my favorite thing about the house is how the Farnsworth has gone to such great lengths to keep it original,upkeeping all the oldness without altering the character or look of the home. It truly looks like it did in the painting, old weathered wood and all. I figure they must have to find old wood to replace rotting boards on the house. I especially love the old wooden gutters, it's so wonderful to have that piece of history so lovingly preserved. We're visiting Cushing next week, and we always stop by the Olson House on our visits. It will be good to see it again. ~Vonnie