Walt Whitman house
328 Mickle Street
In 1873, after suffering a stroke in Washington, D.C., poet Walt Whitman (1819-1892) moved to Camden to live with his brother George, who nursed him back to health. George’s house was located at 322 Seventh Street, and it was there that Oscar Wilde famously visited Whitman on his 1882 lecture tour. Wilde remembered later that the poet’s room was filled with dusty newspapers.
In 1884, at the cost of $1,750, Whitman purchased his own clapboard row house on Mickle Street (now Boulevard), which he called his “little old shanty.” This was the only house he ever owned and the place where he lived out his final years. Whitman was considered an eccentric old lecher in the neighborhood. From his knapsack he peddled copies of his book, Leaves of Grass, on the street. For five years, Whitman’s “special friend” was William Duckett, a teenaged orphan who lived with him. When Duckett moved out, Whitman had a second stroke that left him virtually bedridden for the remainder of his life. The companion of his last years was Howard Traubel, who served as his scribe, confidante, and go-fer.
Whitman’s house is now a museum (see photo above) and looks much as it did when he resided there. His bedroom, which he described as a “low-ceilinged room something like a big old ship’s cabin,” still holds his carved oak bed and assorted piles of books, newspapers, and manuscripts. Also on display are the knapsack in which Whitman toted his books for sale, and a rare first edition of Leaves of Grass, with its tooled green leather cover and embossed gold leaves.
Whitman is buried at the Harleigh Cemetery, 1640 Haddon Avenue, in Camden.