Thanks to the work of our dedicated volunteers, Thurber House was restored to reflect the period when the Thurber family lived here (1913-1917). The first two floors are open to the public. Rooms on view include the formal parlor, the living room and its alcove, the dining room, five bedrooms, and the bathroom Thurber hid in to avoid the ghost running up the back stairs.
At the direction of the Thurber family, the restored house is not a typical museum where interaction with museum materials is not allowed. In many rooms, visitors are invited to sit on the chairs, play a chord on the piano, and experience the museum as if they were the Thurber's guests.
The formal parlor, living room, alcove, and Thurber's bedroom represent the more "museum-oriented" rooms in the house. The parents' bedroom has been turned into a showcase for rotating displays of memorabilia from Thurber's professional life as a writer, playwright, journalist, and cartoonist.
The rooms of William and Robert (Thurber's brothers), the guest room, and the kitchen contain some period furniture and Thurber family or period memorabilia. The dining room has been transformed into a museum shop where various kinds of "Thurberphernalia" can be found.
The third floor of Thurber House has been turned into an apartment for visiting writers and artists.
The Reading Garden
"Columbus is a town in which almost anything is likely to happen and in which almost everything has." James Thurber was right, even regarding gardens. And thanks to a garden-loving benefactor and the landscaping vision of Cynthia Benua, men, women, and dogs can enjoy the Thurber Centennial Reading Garden in the peaceable stretch between Thurber House and Thurber Center.
Four larger-than-life-size dogs, sculpted by Dale Johnson after Thurber's cartoons, frolic amid dogwoods, bayberries, viburnum, and a range of what a Thurber cartoon summed up as "flars." In the center of the garden, a fifth dog playfully perches on top of a tranquil fountain.
The Unicorn in the Garden
In the elliptical park across the street, a unicorn tosses its head as it considers which of the summer lilies it will eat next. The unicorn, modeled after the mythical beast in Thurber's story "The Unicorn in the Garden," is one of two matching sculptures. The other is on the grounds of the Columbus School for Girls.