In a backyard garden, off a Lynchburg side street, one of the top figures in the Harlem Renaissance found her muse.
Poet Anne Spencer was born in 1882 and illiterate until age 11, but later graduated as valedictorian of Virginia Theological Seminary and College. Eventually, she became an accomplished writer and civil rights activist, and she was even featured on a postage stamp in 2020.
She and her husband, Edward, built their home and backyard garden. Measuring 125 feet long by 45 feet wide, the garden includes a fountain, a grape arbor, and a wisteria-covered pergola painted robin egg blue. Grass and stone paths lead by flowering shrubs, roses, and bulbs, some originally planted a century ago.
In a poem, Anne Spencer once called the garden “half my world,” and today, walking the sunny grass path, visitors can understand why it played such a large role in her life.
Must see: Don’t miss the writing room at the garden’s center. The building was named Edankraal, a combination of Edward and Anne’s first names, plus the Afrikaans word kraal, meaning “enclosure.”
Garden lore: During her life, Anne Spencer hosted some of the 20th century’s most influential Black leaders and writers, including Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, Thurgood Marshall and Martin Luther King Jr. The fountain sculpture, which Anne Spencer named “Prince Ebo,” was a gift from historian and civil rights leader W.E.B. Du Bois.
Info: The home is open by appointment, while visitors are welcome in the garden year-round. $15.