top of page

James Merrill House Visitors Center

a literary gathering place


We invite you to stop in to our street-level space on 107 Water Street for a poetry reading, a cup of coffee, to browse our books for sale, to view our latest exhibit (referenced below), or simply to say hello!

*Please check our Instagram for specific hours*

The renovated space for the Visitors Center was previously occupied by the much-loved Doug Radicioni barber shop adjacent to the former home of the poet James Merrill. The street-level space hosts community events celebrating poets and writers, sells books by Merrill and our former writers-in-residence, and offers a tantalizing glimpse of the Pulitzer-winning writer’s apartment on the upper floors of 107 Water Street.


Fans and Clouds and Bats: The Story

In the early 1970s, James Merrill and his partner David Jackson decided the old wallpaper in the sitting room of their apartment at 107 Water Street "had to go." An old friend, Hubbell Pierce, whom they knew as a cocktail lounge crooner of Cole Porter songs, had taken up wallpaper design.


One evening after a soufflé dinner, the three men had an idea for a fantastical new wallpaper, taking the theme of fans and clouds and bats from the images in their old Chinese carpet. After commissioning Pierce to make it, Merrill and Jackson returned from a winter in Greece to find the extravagantly weird, hand-printed wallpaper, named "Summer Palace," installed on the walls of the third-floor parlor.

bottom of page