Take a peek into the mind of Harriet Beecher Stowe, the renowned author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, by visiting The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center located in Hartford, CT. Specifically designed to inspire visitors to have educational and insightful conversations about slavery, this tour will showcase just how Stowe’s opinions changed America forever.
Before you go, make sure you know these 10 things:
- Although the Stowe Center is undergoing interior preservation work, it is still open to visitors. This National Historic Landmark will be fully accessible in spring/summer 2017. For now, the tour will include the 1873 Visitor Center and 1884 Katharine Seymour Day House, a gilded age mansion with exhibits and the Beecher-Stowe family furnishings.
- The tour is focused more on the impact of Stowe’s life and work on the US than it is in exhibiting the house itself. This interactive tour will connect you to the past and inspire you take on social justice issues in the present.
- Though Harriet Beecher Stowe published more than 30 books, her best-selling anti-slavery novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, gained her recognition worldwide. This book calls on people to recognize the significance of freedom, equality, and race relations in the US, and played a major role in inspiring abolition.
- Uncle Tom’s Cabin sold over 10,000 copies in the US in its first week and 300,000 in its first year. In Great Britain, the novel sold over 1.5 million copies in one year (in 1852). It was the most popular novel of the 19th century, and the second most popular book—outsold only by the Bible!
- A quick Summary of Uncle Tom’s Cabin: Taking place on the Shelby plantation in Kentucky, two enslaved people (Tom and 4-year-old Harry) are sold to pay off debts belonging to the Shelby family. The story focuses on Tom, a strong, religious man with a family, and Eliza, Harry’s mother. In the novel, Eliza protects her son Harry by making an escape with him over the frozen Ohio River and later reunites with her family. The other plot of the novel focuses on how Tom protects his family by choosing not to run away so the others may stay together. When he is sold South, he meets four people: Topsy, Eva, St. Clare and Simon Legree, and his deep faith gives him the strength to frustrate his enemies and move toward his fate. The novel ends when both Tom and Eliza escape slavery. Unfortunately, Tom is whipped to death by his final master, Simon Legree, for refusing to deny his faith or betray the hiding place of two fugitive women.
- The Stowe Center was recently named one of the Top 50 Educational Attractions in the Northeast. Take your whole family here to sneak in an educational opportunity for the weekend.
- The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center has the largest collection of material related to the Beecher and Stowe extended families, Nook Farm neighborhood, and resources related to the best-selling novel. This wealth of 19th century American materials holds 6,000 objects and over 200,000 manuscripts, pamphlets, books, and images. This collection contains important themes of the century, decorative arts, and architecture.
- Take your family for a tour filled with storytelling and history. This is a perfect day trip activity for children between the ages of 5–12 accompanied by an adult. Family tours take place on Saturdays and Sundays at 1:30pm and tickets are $10 per person up to 4 people, and then $5 for each additional person.
- Mark your calendar for January 14th! On this day you can experience a behind the scenes look at the $3.3 million preservation project of the Harriet Beecher Stowe House. During the tour you will learn about the project planning, packing, moving, and storing historic collections and new discoveries about the interiors. Join the tour at 3pm for just $12 per person.
- The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center is on the Connecticut Freedom Trail and the Connecticut Women’s Heritage Trail and the gardens are part of Connecticut’s Historic Gardens.
Where: Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, 77 Forest Street, Hartford
When: Regular tours are Monday through Saturday 9:30am–5pm, Sundays from noon–5pm. Family tours are Saturday and Sunday at 1:30pm.
Cost: Tickets are $14 for adults, $12 for Seniors (65+) and students (17+ with school ID), $8 for children age 5–16, free for children under 5, and $12 per person in a group of 10 people or more.
Tips: The last tour each day starts at 4:30pm. Some days will have limited hours due to a large number of school tours, so it is advised that you call ahead before heading there. The Center will be closed from January to March, as well as their typical holidays (New Year’s Day, Easter Sunday, July 4, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day).