Her words changed the world.

Harriet Beecher Stowe House

"No work of art can compare with a perfect home..."

Surrounded by Victorian-style gardens and sheltered beneath arching trees, Harriet Beecher Stowe's home (1871) illustrates the lasting popularity of the gothic-revival cottage and the influences of architects Andrew Jackson Downing and Calvert Vaux.

The house was originally constructed for Franklin and Mary Chamberlin; he was an attorney and state politician. (The Chamberlin's later built next door, the Katharine Seymour Day House.)

The house combines architectural details like the steep hip-roof and graceful exterior trim with the balanced proportion of bay windows and porches on each side. Boasting an interior of 4500 square feet, the façade was designed to make the house appear smaller than it actually is, resulting in a welcoming effect. While smaller than other homes in Stowe's Nook Farm neighborhood, Stowe's house nevertheless contains 14 rooms.

The History

The house was built in 1871 and Stowe purchased it in 1873. The home was Stowe's main residence until her death in 1896. She shared it home with her husband Calvin Stowe, a retired professor and Biblical scholar, their adult twin daughters, Eliza and Harriet, and their son Charley and his family. Several of Stowe's later works were written while she lived here.

"There was no style of living to be compared with the simple, dignified order of a true New England home..."

After Stowe's death in 1896 the house was sold, passing through multiple owners until 1924 when it was purchased by Katharine Seymour Day, a grandniece of Stowe and granddaughter of Isabella Beecher Hooker. Day, a painter and preservationist, lived in the house for nearly 40 years. Her decision to make the house a museum resulted in an impressive collection of Stowe and Beecher furnishings, books, manuscripts, and memorabilia.

Appearance and Furnishings

Careful research of the house's appearance during Stowe's residency made restoration possible. Most of the furnishings belonged to Stowe or members of her family, and the interior incorporates her preference for informal homemaking. The furnishings are a blend of 18th- century family heirlooms alongside Empire and Victorian pieces. Family photographs stand near Stowe's souvenir copies of Raphael's Madonna of the Goldfinch and the Venus de Milo. Stowe's own oils and watercolors attest to her artistic talent. The exterior paint reproduces colors Stowe chose in 1878 and the grounds illustrate her fondness for gardening.

The First Floor

The ground floor of the house includes a front parlor for receiving guests or hosting formal events. The Stowes gathered to read, play games, take tea, or enjoy other family activities in the bright and sunny rear parlor, which features plants growing around windows and picture frames.

The dining room holds Stowe's table, a set of period chairs and more of her paintings. A Victorian sideboard displays decorative tableware. The kitchen is based on the efficient model recommended by Stowe and Catharine Beecher in their domestic guide The American Woman's Home (1869). Its pine counters, shelves, and doors are grained to look like chestnut.

The Second Floor

The second floor contains family bedrooms and a bathing room. Many objects in these rooms recall the family's travels, from purchased photographs of classical ruins, to Stowe's paintings and sketches of Maine, Florida and Scotland. A wardian case, or terrarium, in Stowe's bedroom reflects her advocacy of bringing nature indoors. Stowe's hand-painted cottage-style furniture fills the sitting room next to her bedroom. The attic holds five rooms originally used by family members and servants which are not open to the public.