Historical places: The Harriet Beecher Stowe House

CINCINNATI -- The neighborhood of Walnut Hills was once home to one of the most important authors in American history, Harriet Beecher Stowe.

Stowe, whose novel "Uncle Tom's Cabin" served as a beacon for the abolitionist movement during the Civil War, grew up in a home at 950 Gilbert Ave. Her father, Lyman Beecher, was president of Lane Seminary—a Presbyterian college and seminary in Walnut Hills. Beecher was given the home to live in with his family during his presidency.

Program Director Cailtin Tracey-Miller said Stowe's life in Cincinnati is what inspired the events for her famous book. After the death of Stowe's son, Samuel Charles at 18 months old, Stowe said she identified with the pain slave mothers faced when they were forced to separate from their children.

The house is now a public museum in its original location in Walnut Hills. It became a historic building in 1943 and is a volunteer-based organization.

The Beecher Home

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The Beecher's home was built in 1832 in a classic Greek Revival style and was known as the president of the Lane Seminary's home. Stowe lived at the house for 18 years while her father was president. She lived there during her first two years of her marriage and the birth of her first two children.


Lyman's Desk

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Stowe's father, Lyman Beecher, used this desk during his time as president of the seminary. He was active in abolitionism in Cincinnati during the Civil War and encouraged his students to support the movement. The seminary was known for its liberal stance during the war and was the first college to accept a former slave, James Bradley.
 

The Study

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The parlor is one of three original rooms not touched during major renovations over the years. Historians have said the Beechers would have used the room to entertain guests. The room is furnished with decor of the late 1800s.

 

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Stowe and her husband Calvin Stowe, who was professor at Lane Seminary, moved to the East Coast following the death of their son. Historians say Stowe drew from her experiences living in the Tri-State to draft the characters and themes in "Uncle Tom's Cabin." President Abraham Lincoln is credited with telling Stowe: "So you are the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war."

 

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The home has several artifacts from Lyman Beecher's career, including this text from one of his former students. The seminary was known for its famous "Lane Debates" in 1834 during which students called for an antislavery movement.

If You Go:

Admission: Free, but donations are encouraged. Large groups should call ahead of time.
Hours: May 1- Labor Day 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday; Labor Day to Thanksgiving 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday and Saturday; Thanksgiving- Feb. 1 closed; Feb 1- April 30 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday and Saturday.
Phone: (513) 751-0651
Website: http://stowehousecincy.org/
Address: 2950 Gilbert Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio, 45206

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