O = Olson House

I hope I’m not going to bore you with yet another house, but Rhe’s interest in old buildings is also mine. This one is famous not only for its history, but because it was depicted in Andrew Wyeth’s iconic Christina’s World.

Christina's World Andrew Wyeth 1948 tempera on gessoed panel
Christina’s World Andrew Wyeth 1948 tempera on gessoed panel

Olson House - WikipediaOlson House is a 14-room colonial farmhouse in Cushing. It was built in the late 1700s by Captain Samuel Hathorn II and was substantially altered in 1871 by Captain Samuel Hathorn IV. These alterations included the addition of several bedrooms on the third floor and the construction of a steeply pitched roof. Christina Olson and Alvaro Olson, descendants of the Captains Hathorn, inherited the property in 1929 from their mother Kathe Hathorn. Christina and Alvaro Hathorn were depicted in numerous paintings and sketches by Wyeth from 1939 to 1968.

Anna Christina Olson is thought to have suffered from polio, but based on her symptoms, was more likely afflicted with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, a genetic disorder characterized by a progressive wasting away of the muscles, paralysis, and loss of sensation beginning in late childhood or early adulthood. Wyeth was inspired to create the painting when he saw her crawling across a field while he was watching from a window in the house.

After Christina’s death in 1968, the house was purchased by movie director Joseph E. Levine, Olson Housean admirer of Wyeth’s work. Levine operated the house as a museum for two years starting in 1971 but local residents opposed this use. The house was then purchased by Apple CEO John Sculley, who put the house up for sale in 1989; he eventually donated the house to the Farnsworth Art Museum 1991. This museum has one of the nation’s largest collections of the paintings of the Wyeth family: N.C., Andrew, and Jamie. It maintains the houses as a facility open to the public.

The house was designated as a National Historical Landmark in June 2011.

I have myself visited the Farnsworth Museum, just to see the Wyeth family paintings, and the experience was unforgettable. An “F” for another day!




19 thoughts on “O = Olson House”

    1. Thank you, John. I will have to do a post on the Farnsworth Museum – amazing that the entire Wyeth family was/is so talented. Hugs back at you!

  1. Fascinating. I love Wyeth’s work, and used to live in DE and go to the Brandywine River Museum close by in PA full of Wyeth art work . Christina’s World is a favorite, as well as his window pictures (perhaps from that house?). Thanks for the history.

  2. Beautiful house and such wonderful descriptions. I could sit here and read about Rhe’s interests all day. She is such an interesting character, and can’t wait to meet her again soon.

  3. Wyeth’s painting interests me. As you know, I have dermatomyositis and am a member of the Muscular Dystrophy Association. While I have found it confronting to see young people in electric wheelchairs, no wheelchair, is a much worse alternative. Wheels= freedom.

      1. I wouldn’t say nothing gets me down. I just fight back pretty hard and am well armed with some pretty heavy ammunition. I also have a very strong belief in the your own ability to change your circumstances and destiny along with the power of God. I do believe God has good things ahead. My Dad has sold the house at Palm Beach and we’re out in 3 weeks. That has been shattering for me as I have really found myself here but I’ve worked hard through that and am thinking that it opens up the opportunity to see new places. We also live a stone throw to the beach and we haven’t seen much of that since coming here so the future isn’t as dark as it seems.

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