THE CLAY HILLS 377 TENNESSEE WILLIAMS HOME & WELCOME CENTER The Tennessee Williams Home & Welcome Center, located on Main Street in Columbus, was the first home of the award-winning playwright and serves as the official welcome center for the city. This colorful Victorian home initially served as the pastor’s residence for St. Paul’s Episcopal Church where the Reverend Walker Dakin, Williams’s grandfather, ministered from 1905 through 1913. Following his birth in Columbus on March 26, 1911, Thomas Lanier “Tennessee” Williams spent the first years of his life at his grandfather’s home. Williams enjoyed a fairly pleasant upbringing in Mississippi until he moved with his family to the city of St. Louis, Missouri when he was eight years old. Perhaps in response to this new environment, Williams became introverted and began to focus his time and attention to writing. Despite early health issues and a difficult childhood, Williams was a highly intelligent and prolific individual and even found artistic inspiration in his family’s troubles. During the 1930s and early 1940s, Williams, as he struggled to achieve recognition as a writer, worked various jobs to support himself. In 1939, Williams moved to New Orleans to write for President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s federal program, the Works Progress Administration. His experience in New Orleans would later inspire the setting for and some of the characters in his play A Streetcar Named Desire. With a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, Williams was able to jumpstart his career in Hollywood and in New York City. His first major success came when his play The Glass Menagerie opened on Broadway in 1944. The work received both the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award and the New York Film Critics’ Circle Award. The highly acclaimed and popular work A Streetcar Named Desire debuted in 1947, solidifying Williams’s reputation as one of the great playwrights of all time. Despite inner fears and struggles, Williams continued to produce critically-acclaimed works including Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Orpheus Descending, and more. In 1979, Williams was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame. In addition to his award- winning plays, Williams also wrote a number of short stories and screenplays, two novels, and a memoir. Today, Williams is celebrated for his extraordinary talent, individuality, and intense honesty. His childhood home was moved from the church grounds to its present location in 1993 in order to save the building from potential destruction and to preserve it as a historic National Literary Landmark.