Monday, August 12, 2013

The Harriet Beecher Stowe House

As a lover of history and author of historical fiction, I thoroughly enjoy visiting historic homes. They're great for research and just a fun way to get lost in the past!

Okay, so that all sounds fine and good, but my kids hate history! Regardless, during summer vacation I dragged them over to The Harriet Beecher Stowe House.  It's less than ten minutes from where we live, and I thought it would be a great living history lesson for them.

"How exciting," I said, "to walk in the same house that Harriet Beecher Stowe actually lived in.  We'll walk on the same floor, climb the same steps, and walk on the very grounds she strode!"  I reminded them that she's the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin, a book partly responsible for bringing about the Civil War due to its realistic portrayal of slavery.

She brought to light the truth about the "Peculiar Institution" that so many Americans were unaware of. While living in Cincinnati she met slaves.  She visited Kentucky, which is right across the Ohio River (today about a ten minute drive from the Stowe House), and saw the conditions to which slaves were subjected.  Her time in Cincinnati inspired her to write Uncle Tom's Cabin.

My boys were much less enthusiastic than I was about our field trip, but despite their initial protests, they enjoyed the self guided tour we had.  They even stood still  long enough for me to read some of the display materials to them.

Here's a little history about the house and Harriet Beecher Stowe's life in Cincinnati. Mrs. Stowe lived in Cincinnati for nearly twenty years.  The house where she lived, now known as The Stowe House, was completed in 1833. It was built as the residence for the Lane Seminary President, and its first occupants were Harriet's family, headed by her father Reverend Lyman Beecher, who moved his large family to Cincinnati in 1832.

Lane Seminary was an influential Presbyterian college and religious seminary in the 1830s and 1840s.  It was also the first US college and seminary to admit a black student, James Bradley, a former slave. Students of the seminary went on to become educators, ministers, abolitionists, and social reformers.

After Harriet married Lane professor Calvin Stowe in 1836, she moved nearby, but visited the house frequently, and her first two children were born there.

Every city and town has history to share.  Are you close to a piece of living history in your area?

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!


Shelly said...

I would love to visit her house someday! I think your boys will appreciate you exposing them to such great history when they get older.

Living history near me...well, we have what is still one of the largest ranches in the world (and until Castro took over Cuba, the largest ranch in the world) headquartered very near us.

Norma said...

Thanks for sharing this with us, Maria!

There are a lot of historical locales near where I live. In downtown St. Louis, we have the Old Courthouse, where the Dred Scott trial was conducted...we have the location of the start of the Lewis and Clark Expedition...and in Hannibal, Mark Twain's boyhood home.

Jennette Marie Powell said...

I had no idea that was in Cincinnati! Adding to my list of places nearby to visit. Luckily, my daughter loves history, and there's plenty in our area up the highway - probably most notable is Huffman Prairie, where the Wright Bros. developed the first practical airplane, and lots of related sites. Very cool!

William Kendall said...

Thank you for sharing this, Maria. She was an extraordinary person.

Being here, there's so much history to be found in my hometown. Physically speaking, there's a 19th century estate close to me that's now owned by the city and serves as a museum of sorts, the Billings estate.

Karen Jones Gowen said...

I admire Stowe because she exemplifies how literature can inspire political movements and change the world. Your boys look like they're enjoying themselves!

Maria McKenzie said...

@Shelly: Very cool, living near what was once the largest ranch in the world!

@Norma: Wow! What amazing landmarks:).

@Jennette: When I lived in North Carolina, the natives always wanted to claim the Wright Bros. I always had to remind them that they were from Ohio! Wish I'd known about Huffman Prairie.

@William: With all the photos you share, I can tell your town is filled with lots of natural and historic treasures!

@Karen: I don't know why they were so carried away with that butter churn;).

Maria said...

Hi, Maria.

I cannot understand anyone who doesn't love history.

Maria McKenzie said...

Hi, Maria.

It's a mystery to me!