Work has started to preserve the childhood home of renowned children’s book author Theodore “Dr. Seuss” Geisel and turn it into a museum.
Over the next several years, the Springfield Museums plan to restore the house at 74 Fairfield Street in Springfield’s Forest Park neighborhood to how it would have appeared in the early 1900s, and to showcase how Geisel’s childhood experiences influenced his writings and illustrations.
People will be able to stand in Geisel’s tiny bedroom, where he drew pictures on the walls and through the open windows at night could hear the animals at the Forest Park zoo.
This is not planned as a typical house museum. The emphasis is not on furniture or artifacts, explains Karen Fisk, the Springfield Museum’s communication’s director and the project manager for Ted’s House and Innovation Center.
"People are invited in to think and to experience, as opposed to just look. It is not about just looking," said Fisk.
The Ted’s House project was jumpstarted by a recent contribution in an undisclosed amount from the Dr. Seuss Foundation.
"They brought forward a very generous gift to get us started," said Fisk.
The total project cost has been estimated to be as much $600,000 according to Fisk.
As part of the renovations the house’s electrical system will be upgraded and it will be made more energy efficient.
"We're going to take some of the rooms and put them back in the shape they were when Dr Seuss lived here," said Fisk. "We are going to fill in his bedroom with the (type) of furniture that was probably in there when he was there."
When Ted’s House opens to the public it will be by tour and reservation only, according to Fisk.
"What we envision at this point is that people would start at the Springfield Museums where they would get in a van with about 8 people at a time visiting the house," said Fisk. "We want to a have a low impact on the neighborhood. We want to respect the neighbors."
A later phase of the project includes plans for turning the garage located behind the house into an innovation center where artists and writers could work.
The Springfield Museums purchased Geisel’s former home from its most recent owner for $185,000 in 2015.
It is located about two miles from The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum, which the Springfield Museums opened in 2017 as the first and only museum dedicated to the life and work of the children’s book author.