Anne Hathaway’s Cottage
Beautiful thatched farmhouse and childhood home of Shakespeare wife, Anne Hathaway
A romantic setting where young William wooed his beloved
Stroll around stunning grounds and gardens overflowing with beautiful blooms, shrubs and traditional vegetables
Regular garden tours throughout the summer season
From the Wessington Springs Shakespeare Garden website: In 1926, Mrs. Emma Shay, English teacher at Wessington Springs Seminary, borrowed $1,000.00 to travel throughout England. Her purpose was to increase her knowledge and ability to teach English literature. She collected flowers, leaves, grasses and bits of bark from the homes of famous literary figures. These were later mounted in portfolios and sold to pay the debt. The diary of her trip is published in Mrs. Shay Did It, by Grace Abrahamson.
April 23, 1927, Shakespeare’s birthday marked the beginning of efforts toward the construction of the Shakespeare Garden. An alfalfa patch west of the Administration building was the chosen site. The work was done by Professor and Mrs. Shay, other faculty, and students.
Shrubs, trees and flowers of all kinds were donated by the city, the May Seed Company, Henry Field Company and private citizens. The summer house was built by the boys of the English department and the sophomore class of 1928 made the lily pond. A sundial and gazing globe were also donated. By the end of 1928, the Shakespeare Garden, South Dakota’s first, was a noted attraction with many visitors.
Fundraising was a major activity. Mrs. Shay sponsored Old English dinners at Christmas time. Spring tickets were sold to the Shakespeare Garden Program, held on Shakespeare’s birthday. This cultural event included readings, music and talent shows. Another fundraising activity was “Tag Day” on which students made and sold tags supporting the garden.
Anne Hathaway Cottage was built by Professor Shay and Mrs. Shay when they retired in 1932. The builders drew the plans from a picture postcard of the original at Stratford-on-Avon. It is said to be an excellent likeness of the left half. The terraced garden to the west of the cottage is the Anne Hathaway Garden, built by Professor Shay. In 1938 the upper lily pool was added, and the wishing well was built by the sophomore class three years later.
Support of the Shakespeare Garden continued through the closure of the college in 1964 and the closure of the Academy in 1968. The demolition of the college/academy was completed in December of 1970 and the site was converted to Hillcrest Heights Housing Project. All that remains is the Shakespeare Garden and Anne Hathaway Cottage, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was privately owned beginning in 1974.
In observance of our state’s centennial in 1989, The Shakespeare Garden Society of Wessington Springs, a not-for-profit corporation, was established to purchase, restore, maintain and improve the Shakespeare Garden and Anne Hathaway Cottage. Funds were raised and the Society obtained ownership that year.
Under the guidance of the board of directors, funds obtained from membership dues, donations, grants and various events have continued to finance the restoration, maintenance, and improvement of the Garden and Cottage, along with countless hours of volunteer labor. In the fall of 1995, the appearance of the Cottage was enhanced with the addition of a thatched roof.
The Cottage and Garden are the site of teas, tours, Maypole Dance and even weddings. A program or tour of homes is held annually at Christmas as well. A one-act Shakespeare play or program has been performed in Shakespeare Garden each summer, beginning in 1993. That same year a collection of ornaments donated by members, friends, and alumni was begun for the Cottage Christmas tree.
The Shakespeare Garden Endowment Fund, established in 1994, provides financial support for the work of the Society in encouraging public interest, support and appreciation for this site and its cultural and historic significance for years to come.