Columbus State inherits Carson McCullers' adult home in New York

mrice@ledger-enquirer.comFebruary 4, 2014 

Courtesy of Columbus State University Columbus State University has acquired Carson McCullers' adult home in Nyack, N.Y., a gift from the estate of Dr. Mary Mercer, the late author's physician and friend. The estate also includes possessions from the Columbus native and a $350,000 gift that will help with operating expenses and program development.

The Columbus State University's Carson McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians has grown up.

Already based in the author's childhood home in Columbus, the center's reach now extends to New York, where CSU has inherited McCullers' adult home.

The university announced the gift from the estate of McCullers' physician and friend, Dr. Mary Mercer. The gift also includes some of McCullers' possessions and $350,000 for the center's operating expenses and program development.

"These acquisitions have meaning beyond the walls of Columbus State University," CSU president Tim Mescon said in a news release. "Carson McCullers, one of our own, is among the literary world's greats. These generous gifts will not only benefit Columbus State but generations of students and scholars to come, through their research and through programs we hope to put into place."

McCullers was born Lula Carson Smith on Feb. 19, 1917. She wrote five novels: "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter," "Reflections in a Golden Eye," "The Member of the Wedding," "The Ballad of the Sad Café," and "Clock Without Hands." She also wrote two plays, 20 short stories, more than two dozen nonfiction pieces, a book of children's verse, several poems and an unfinished autobiography, according to the center's website. She died from a stroke at age 50 in 1967.

McCullers' three-story, 6,000-square-foot Victorian house overlooks the Hudson River in downtown Nyack, N.Y., 20 miles from New York City.

"This acquisition presents a thrilling opportunity for our students to study in a great American city in a famous American author's home," Courtney George, the center's director, said in the release. "We intend to use the house for lodging for study-away programs in the New York City area, much like CSU's Spencer House in Oxford, England."

The center is dedicated to preserving McCullers' legacy, nurturing American writers and musicians, educating young people and fostering the literary and musical life of Columbus, Georgia and the American South. The center operates a museum in McCullers' childhood home in Columbus, presents educational and cultural programs, maintains an archive of materials about McCullers and her work, and offers fellowships for writers and composers.

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