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E.B. White’s Childhood Home Is for Sale

This listing photo features the newly restored mansion that E.B. White grew up in, including the author’s beloved octogonal tower that he once described as his “fortress.” Photo: R New York/(c)2021 Kerdos Media & Marketing, LLC

“HISTORIC MANSION ALERT,” the listing for the Mount Vernon house starts. Sometimes (okay, often) it’s a letdown to find out what that means. But it turns out this corner property at 101 Summit Avenue is the childhood home of E.B. White, author of Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little. The six-bedroom mansion, built in 1905, is newly restored and features original wood moldings, fireplaces, chandeliers, and a wraparound enclosed porch. It’s listed for $2.8 million, a big jump from the $500,000 that it sold for just two years ago.

While White’s farmhouse in Brooklin, Maine, is the more famous White house — it’s on the National Register of Historic Places and served as the inspiration for Charlotte’s Web — the Mount Vernon house is where White grew up. The author lived in the house with his parents and five other siblings and described his upbringing as generally happy, aside from the “routine terrors of childhood.” As he wrote of his time there, “Our big house at 101 Summit Avenue was my castle. From it I emerged to do battle, and into it I retreated when I was frightened or in trouble. The house even had the appearance of a fortress, with its octagonal tower room for sighting the enemy and its second-story porches for gun emplacements.”

The original wood moldings featured in this listing photo add to the historic feeling of this house. Photo: R New York/(c)2021 Kerdos Media & Marketing, LLC
The wrap-around glass porch featured in this listing photo is a highlight of the mansion. Photo: R New York/(c)2021 Kerdos Media & Marketing, LLC

Maybe because it was never designated as a historic house, it took an expensive restoration to bring it back to the market. The mansion’s current owner, Jim Benjamin, told local news that the house was in “very poor condition” when he bought it and it took $1 million and two years to restore it. Benjamin said he kept all of the original details in White’s beloved octagonal room, and the large wooden front door is also the same. There are colorful blue, green, and red chandeliers sprinkled throughout. The original barn where White “spent countless hours hobnobbing” with the coachman is also still outside the house, although it looks to be in a dilapidated state.

Of course, many things are new, like the kitchen appliances, the bathrooms, and the well pumps. But there’s another historic memory that any future owner can relish. As White wrote, “As a very small boy, I used to repair to the cellar, where I would pee in the coal bin-for variety.”

E.B. White’s Childhood Home Is for Sale