Thursday, March 13, 2008

A good time to sell Adam Smith's house

IN MOST countries it would have been marked by a fanfare of press releases and a long roll of fund-raising drums. Not in Scotland. This week Edinburgh's city council put on the market the house where Adam Smith spent his last 12 years, from 1778 until 1790. Advertisements in the property sections of local newspapers seek offers in excess of £700,000 ($1.4m) for a 17th-century house of historical interest, but fail to point out its connection with the father of modern economics.

This indifference to one of Scotland's greatest sons in the city where he spent much of his adult life is curious, but consistent. His house, recently a municipal centre for troubled boys, has a small, tarnished bronze plaque recording it as the town house of the Earls of Panmure and the home of Adam Smith. His grave just off the High Street was overgrown until 2006 when, thanks to £10,000 from an expatriate Scottish oilman, it was cleaned; visitors still have to hunt for it. In Glasgow, where Smith lectured for more than a decade, a professorship is named after him but there are no other signs of his tenure.

-The economist's house is on the (free) market

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