OK here’s a great idea: let’s all pitch in some cash, not too much, whatever we happen to have lying around, and buy the rural New Hampshire house where famous American hermit J.D. Salinger lived for a while. It’s for sale, according to Curbed, for less than $700,000, and it is super pretty.
As reported by the Valley News, Salinger purchased the place in 1953 after separating from his first wife, by which time he had achieved both critical and commercial success with the 1951 publication of The Catcher in the Rye. He made the move to Cornish from his apartment in Manhattan (300 57th Street), and it’s in the small New Hampshire town where his reputation as a recluse solidified, but according to a 2010 article in the New York Times, Salinger was a relatively active member of the community.
Salinger, who sold the house in the ’60s but stayed in town, is said to have voted in elections, attended town meetings at the Cornish Elementary School, and been a mainstay at $12 roast beef dinners at First Congregational Church in nearby Hartland, Vermont. Locals, embodying what one resident once described to the New York Times as “the code of the hills,” have boasted since his death in 2010 of misdirecting the throngs of eager English majors that came looking for their resident writer. According to the owner of a local general store, just how far these misdirections took Salinger pilgrims “depended on how arrogant they were.”
Once we communally own the place, we can continue the grand tradition of fucking with earnest young men who, no doubt, have cats named “Holden” and “Zooey.” Also, we can turn it into an artists’ colony! Or a Furies-style lesbian separatist enclave! Or just a fun place to have keg parties!
Is the pedigree really worth the mark-up? Remember when Elizabeth Gilbert’s house went on the market a few months ago? Zillow estimates the house’s worth at $715,000, or A LOT LESS than Gilbert is asking ($999,000). The house is gorgeous but the selling point, obvs, is its affiliation with a woman played, in the movie version of the memoir version of her life, by Julia F’in Roberts.
The house hasn’t sold and Gilbert hasn’t reduced the price. What will happen next? Will Gilbert compromise on money or on wanderlust? Will her real estate story have a happy ending? Stay tuned!
Meanwhile, Zillow estimates that Salinger’s old stomping grounds are worth about $550,000. I can only assume Zillow thinks Catcher, like Eat Pray Love, is overrated.