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Nebraska author appreciated small town living

During a visit to Elmwood, we learned about the impact of author Bess Streeter Aldrich, and...
During a visit to Elmwood, we learned about the impact of author Bess Streeter Aldrich, and about her beautiful home.(KOLN)
Published: Mar. 11, 2021 at 12:35 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 11, 2021 at 1:00 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - During a visit to the home of Bess Streeter Aldrich in Elmwood, we learned about the impact the author had on the reading public, and we learned more about her beautiful home.

We talked with Kurk Shrader, who is the executive director of the Bess Streeter Aldrich Foundation about this unique place to visit. “She was quite important,” Shrader said. “We consider her one of the top six Nebraska writers at the time. She wrote 160 short stories, she wrote 9 separate novels, and books that were put together as short stories.” Shrader says her most famous book is called ‘A Lantern in her Hand’.

Aldrich grew up in a family of storytellers. “She, I think, felt that she was a storyteller,” Shrader said. “She appreciated small town living. She wrote about things that she liked, and things important to her. She wrote about the hardships and the advantages of living in a small town. Many of her books feature the world of homesteading as well.” Aldrich not only wrote books, but wrote for major American magazines. “In fact, a couple of her books were made into movies,” Shrader said. “One was ‘Cheers for Miss Bishop’, which premiered at the Stuart Theater in downtown Lincoln.”

Aldrich and her family moved to Elmwood in 1909, and they built the home that still stands today in 1922. She stayed in Elmwood until 1946, which she moved to Lincoln. Shrader says many of Aldrich’s books were written in a room called “The Study” in her Elmwood home. “We have her writing desk here,” Shrader said. “She would do most of her writing here on a Big Chief notepad with a pencil, and then at the end of the day, the desk could be opened to reveal a typewriter, and high school girls in the community did quite a bit of typing for her.”

There are many other rooms in the house that include furniture owned by Aldrich. “The house was donated to our foundation by the Clements family in 1992,” Shrader said. “When they donated the house, they donated many of the furnishings. In 1938, Mrs. Aldrich was identified as one of nine authors in America with one of the most beautiful yards. That was in Good Housekeeping magazine. So, we have brought our gardens up to speed. We have 12 gardens named after her books, and we have a privacy area, and additional pergolas where weddings can take place.”

Be sure to stop the house where you can arrange a tour. You are also encouraged to go across the street to the Bess Streeter Aldrich park to spend time with your family.

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