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Arthur Miller’s Former Studio Awaits Its Next Chapter in a Connecticut Parking Lot

by Sophia Chen
12 comments
Arthur Miller's Studio

Arthur Miller, the acclaimed playwright, would amble up a verdant incline after breakfast each day, heading to his 300-square-foot studio, a humble retreat with a petite deck that overlooked a brook and woodland on his cherished Connecticut estate.

From 1958 until his death in 2005 at age 89, this space was the creative womb for the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer. It was here that he honed and reworked a plethora of plays, social critiques, personal diaries, his memoir, and other works, including the screenplays for “The Misfits” (1961) and “The Crucible” (1996). As one of the nation’s most esteemed playwrights, Miller was recognized for his dramatic works, suffused with moral and personal responsibility, that frequently exposed the flaws of the American dream.

Nowadays, the studio’s panorama is decidedly less inspiring.

Over the past five years, Miller’s wooden, single-room structure has been tucked away inconspicuously behind the town hall of Roxbury, Connecticut, next to a rusty dumpster and snowplows in an ordinary parking lot, awaiting its undecided future.

Marc Olivieri, a former neighbor and the builder who relocated the studio to its present, albeit intended temporary location, insists, “It’s a piece of Roxbury history. And we can’t let it disappear.”

A team, in collaboration with Miller’s daughter Rebecca, a writer and filmmaker, has been endeavoring to raise $1 million to restore the studio and move it to a local public library’s property.

The collective intends to offer related programs, which Olivieri, a trustee of the nonprofit Arthur Miller Writing Studio, affirms as the paramount aspect of the project.

In an email, Olivieri noted, “Ideas and ideals are essential to maintaining the moral direction of this country. Writers like Miller provide the stories that color these ideas.”

Roxbury, a tranquil, pastoral community home to roughly 2,200 residents and located about 87 miles northeast of New York City, has been a long-time residence for renowned writers, artists, and performers. Hollywood legend Marilyn Monroe, Miller’s second wife, also lived there in the late 1950s.

Sarah Griswold, board president of the Arthur Miller Writing Studio, suggests, “A lot of these people go there because it’s not New York. It’s out of the way. It’s quiet and people don’t make a fuss about them.”

The group, in partnership with other Arthur Miller associations, envisions future studio visitors learning about the playwright’s body of work and activism, as well as participating in workshops on writing, theatre, and themes important to Miller like mass incarceration. They also plan to host writer residencies and create an online repository.

However, the collective has raised less than $20,000 via their GoFundMe page and is now urged to accelerate their fundraising activities due to upcoming improvements to the highway department’s parking lot.

The studio, which Miller assisted in designing and where he laid mismatched linoleum tiles himself, was his secondary writing space in Roxbury. The playwright penned “Death of a Salesman” (1949) in a cabin he built at an earlier residence.

This newer studio was moved to its present spot after Rebecca Miller sold her father’s second property. Concerned that the new owners might demolish the small annex, she appealed to the town for assistance and funded its temporary relocation.

She said, “I do feel that there is money in the community. Once people realize that others are giving, I think there will be more of a sense of people giving. And I think there is starting to be a groundswell of support.”

The furnishings salvaged from the studio by Rebecca Miller, including a daybed, a wood stove, and an old metal office chair that her father insisted on repairing rather than replacing, will be reinstated after the building is refurbished.

Monochrome photos captured by Magnum photographer Inge Morath, Rebecca Miller’s mother and Arthur Miller’s third wife, chronicle the playwright at work within the 14-by-20-foot space over the years. These images will be referenced for the restoration.

Arthur Miller, observed through the lens, was captured transitioning from working at a desk he crafted from a wooden door to eventually a heavier, plywood desk built to accommodate his early computer gear and a printer.

Julia Bolus, Miller’s literary assistant in the final decade of his life, director of the Arthur Miller Trust, and a Writing Studio board trustee, recalls the studio fondly. She said, “For almost half a century, it was his central space and his one private space.”

Miller’s modest nature was remembered by Mary Tyrrell, a pharmacist and owner of the nearby historic Canfield Corner Pharmacy in Woodbury. She speculated that while Miller might feel slightly embarrassed by the current public attention directed at his humble writing refuge, he would ultimately appreciate its preservation.

“The people who loved him revered him as more than he thought of himself sometimes, which is kind of a nice thing for the community,” Tyrrell concluded.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Arthur Miller’s Studio

Where is Arthur Miller’s former studio currently located?

The studio is currently located in a parking lot behind the town hall of Roxbury, Connecticut.

What was Arthur Miller’s studio used for?

Arthur Miller, a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, used the studio from 1958 until his death in 2005. He used it as a creative space to craft and revise numerous plays, social commentaries, personal journals, his autobiography, and screenplays.

What is the current state of the studio?

The studio is in a state of disrepair and has been situated in a parking lot for the past five years. Efforts are being made to raise funds for its renovation and relocation.

What is the plan for Arthur Miller’s studio?

The plan is to raise $1 million to renovate the studio and move it to the grounds of a local public library. There are also hopes of offering related programming focused on writing, theatre, and topics important to Miller, such as mass incarceration.

How much money has been raised for the studio’s restoration so far?

As of the time of the article, less than $20,000 has been raised via a GoFundMe page set up for this purpose.

Who is involved in the restoration project of the studio?

Rebecca Miller, Arthur Miller’s daughter, is involved in the project along with a team working with the nonprofit Arthur Miller Writing Studio. Other Arthur Miller associations are also involved.

What will happen to the furnishings of the studio?

Rebecca Miller salvaged the furnishings from the studio, and they will be reinstated after the building is refurbished. The items include a daybed, a pot-belly wood stove, and an old metal office chair that Arthur Miller himself repaired.

More about Arthur Miller’s Studio

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12 comments

ConnecticutNative July 3, 2023 - 3:21 pm

Wow I had no idea this was even in Roxbury. Talk about hidden history right under our noses!

Reply
DaveyH July 3, 2023 - 4:25 pm

Can’t believe Miller’s studio’s just sittin’ in a parking lot!! somebody’s gotta do somethin’ ’bout this!

Reply
MarilynFanatic July 3, 2023 - 5:31 pm

Did you guys know Marilyn Monroe lived in Connecticut too? i learned somethin’ new today!

Reply
PlaywrightsRule July 3, 2023 - 7:05 pm

I’ve always admired Miller. So humble yet so impactful with his words. would be amazing to visit his studio someday.

Reply
LiteraryLover July 4, 2023 - 6:28 am

It’s so sad to see a great writer’s workspace abandoned. i hope they can raise the money they need…

Reply
TheaterFan4Life July 4, 2023 - 8:22 am

Man, they’re really trying to save his place, huh. Hoping it works out, his legacy is way too important.

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MarilynFanatic July 6, 2023 - 6:01 pm

Did you guys know Marilyn Monroe lived in Connecticut too? i learned somethin’ new today!

Reply
TheaterFan4Life July 7, 2023 - 7:20 am

Man, they’re really trying to save his place, huh. Hoping it works out, his legacy is way too important.

Reply
PlaywrightsRule July 7, 2023 - 9:18 am

I’ve always admired Miller. So humble yet so impactful with his words. would be amazing to visit his studio someday.

Reply
LiteraryLover July 7, 2023 - 9:50 am

It’s so sad to see a great writer’s workspace abandoned. i hope they can raise the money they need…

Reply
ConnecticutNative July 7, 2023 - 11:14 am

Wow I had no idea this was even in Roxbury. Talk about hidden history right under our noses!

Reply
DaveyH July 7, 2023 - 12:13 pm

Can’t believe Miller’s studio’s just sittin’ in a parking lot!! somebody’s gotta do somethin’ ’bout this!

Reply

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