The 1884 Queen Anne or Aesthetic style house designed by New York architect Francis H. Kimball for Franklin and Mary Chamberlin is one of Hartford's architectural gems. The wood and granite house is an eclectic grouping of turned balusters, porches, differently shaped windows, and multiple balconies. The original exterior paint scheme, roof shingles, crestings, and finials were restored in 2002. In 1973, an underground vault, storing library and museum collections, was added.
The house is named in honor of Katharine Seymour Day (1870 – 1964), founder of the Stowe Center, grandniece of Harriet Beecher Stowe and granddaughter of suffragist Isabella Beecher Hooker. Day, an ardent preservationist and activist, purchased it to save it from being destroyed.
The interior of the 20-room house contains ornately carved cherry, sycamore, and oak paneling with Gothic inspired images and floral designs. Carved faces of the Greenman, a father nature figure, peer from the dining room and parlor. Many of the nine fireplaces showcase tiles from the famed Low Tile Works Company. A massive mahogany chimney breast over the hall fireplace contains squirrels carved in the style of 18th century master, Grinling Gibbons, and ornamentation echoing the exterior roof shingles. The multi-level cherry staircase has two interior balconies, one overlooking a conservatory, and stained glass windows in the hallway, parlor and conservatory.
Today, the Katharine Day House is the location of the Stowe Center Research Library and the Stowe Center's administrative offices. The first floor is used for exhibits, programs and events, and is included in most tours of the Stowe House.
The Stowe Center Research Library is open by appointment.