The Joyce Kilmer birthplace rooms in New Brunswick will be open on Saturday, December 6 in observance of the poet-soldier’s 126th birthday.
The rooms, on the second-floor of the former Kilmer family residence, at 17 Joyce Kilmer Ave., contains writings and memorabilia of the young American poet and essayist, who died in action during World War I in France in 1918, at the age of 31. The city-owned house is at the intersection of Joyce Kilmer Avenue and Welton Street.
Kilmer was born in the house on December 6, 1886, and lived there for five years, before the family moved across-town. The house was purchased by the state of New Jersey as an historic site in 1969, and turned over to the city of New Brunswick in 1994 for partial use for municipal offices. The city Dial-A-Ride service now occupies the ground floor.
Kilmer was born here to Frederick and Annie Kilburn Kilmer, at the then address of 17 Codwise Ave. He was baptized at Christ Episcopal Church in New Brunswick as Alfred Joyce Kilmer, his middle name taken from the officiating minister, Elisha Joyce. He dropped his first name for literary purposes after beginning his writing career in New York City. His writings include the poem “Trees,” published in 1914.
His writings and early death in military action brought him great fame, and inspired the naming of the Camp Kilmer Army Post in Piscataway and Edison during World War II, in exception to the general Army policy of naming its bases for officers rather than enlisted soldiers.