The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center is a nonprofit museum and cultural center in Hartford, CT with an active program schedule and house tour experience.
Our mission: The Stowe Center preserves and interprets Stowe’s home and the Center’s historic collections, promotes vibrant discussion of Stowe’s life and work, and inspires commitment to social justice and positive change.
Stowe’s 1871 home is a National Historic Landmark. The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and is an Affiliate of the American Writers Museum.
As you drive down Forest Street (one-way from Farmington Ave.), turn right in the free parking lot just past the Stowe House. Free on-street parking is also available in designated areas.
The Stowe Center’s mission is: The Stowe Center preserves and interprets Stowe’s home and the Center’s historic collections, promotes vibrant discussion of Stowe’s life and work, and inspires commitment to social justice and positive change.
The Stowe Center uses Stowe’s life and work to inspire positive social change. Interactive tours and programs connect visitors to 19th century issues and the contemporary face of race, class and gender issues. Stowe’s words changed the world and you can too.
Salons at Stowe are 21st-century parlor conversations designed to inspire you to move from dialogue and debate to action on social justice issues you care about. Discussion topics focus on the contemporary face of social issues Stowe advocated. See the Calendar of Events for upcoming Salons at Stowe and more conversations at Stowe.
When you visit the Stowe Center, don’t expect a traditional historic house museum! Expect a conversational, interactive tour where you can participate along with your guide.
Tours are about an hour long.
Tours start in the Stowe Visitor Center.
Stowe was a 19th century author and activist who is most famous for writing Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852), an exposé of slavery and powerful appeal to eliminate it. This wildly popular and influential novel galvanized the anti-slavery movement in the years before the Civil War.
Stowe lived in Hartford from 1863 until her death in 1896. In the Nook Farm neighborhood of Hartford, Stowe built her dream house, Oakholm. The high maintenance cost caused her to sell Oakholm in 1870. She then moved into the Forest Street residence with her husband and twin daughters in 1873 where she lived until her death in 1896.
Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin in 1851 and 1852. The novel was first published serially –- that is, a chapter a week –- in The National Era, a national abolitionist newspaper out of Washington D.C. It was published as a book in hardcover and paperback in 1852.
Harriet Beecher Stowe was born and spent her early years in Connecticut, the last of the New England States to abolish slavery in 1848. As a young person in Connecticut, Harriet could have been exposed to slavery as a child. Some of Stowe’s earliest memories were of an African American woman and of two indentured African Americans employed by her family.
As a young woman living in Ohio, Stowe traveled to neighboring Kentucky, a state where slavery was legal. There she visited a plantation which would serve as inspiration for the Shelby Plantation in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Later, Stowe heard first-hand accounts from formerly enslaved people and employed at least one escaped enslaved person in her home. Her husband and brother sheltered a man and helped him along the informal underground railroad.
While living in Ohio, Harriet Beecher Stowe, her brother Henry Ward Beecher and husband Calvin Stowe assisted an escaped enslaved person. Harriet also provided refuge to John Andrew Jackson, as he traveled north from bondage in South Carolina, in the early 1850s while living in Brunswick, Maine.
The Katharine Seymour Day House, an ornate Victorian mansion and part of the Stowe Center campus, was one of the original neighborhood structures. It was built in 1884 by Franklin and Mary Chamberlin. In the 20th century, the Stowe Center’s founder, Katharine Seymour Day (grandniece of Harriet Beecher Stowe), purchased and restored the home. Today it houses the Research Library, administrative offices and program space.
Slavery is a system in which people own other people. In the United States, it was legal to enslave people taken from Africa and their descendants and to buy and sell them as property. They and their children were enslaved for life. Slavery’s free labor was an important economic force.
Slavery is different from indentured servants. Indentured servants were legally human and they agreed to their servitude by signing a contract with a time limit. Indentured servants did not pass on their indentured status to their children or descendants. While many poor European migrants came to the colonies as indentured servants, including people from Ireland and the United Kingdom, only people from Africa, African Americans and Native Americans were enslaved.
Slavery is also different from modern-day human trafficking. Human trafficking is the illegal trade of human beings for sexual exploitation or forced labor. Unlike 19th century slavery in the U.S., human trafficking is not legal and is conducted in secret using underground networks.
Yes. Slavery was not abolished in Connecticut until 1848, making it the last New England state to abolish slavery.
Slavery began in Connecticut as early as 1639. On the eve of the American Revolution, Connecticut had the highest number of enslaved people in New England. Slowly and gradually, abolition opinion grew in Connecticut, and in 1848 the state abolished slavery.
The central issue that caused the U.S. Civil War was slavery. Though other factors contributed, it was slavery and the debate over its future that fueled southern succession and the war.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin was one of the most popular and influential novels of the 19th century. Many readers were inspired to take action against slavery, but some accused Stowe of exaggeration and she received threats. Responding to her critics, Stowe wrote a A Key To Uncle Tom’s Cabin presenting facts and real life stories on which her novel was based.
Yes, the phrase “Uncle Tom” is a racial slur. Uncle Tom is the title character of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. He is a religious and pious man. At the time of publication, many saw Uncle Tom as a noble and strong protagonist, while others rejected him for being weak and for forgiving Simon Legree, who beat him to death.
Stage adaptations of the story altered Tom’s character dramatically when they used minstrel theater elements, where white actors in blackface represent stereotyped African Americans. Uncle Tom became a term used to insult someone for being subservient and passive.
Yes. They were both residents of the Nook Farm neighborhood, a Hartford community of wealthy social activists in the mid to late 19th century.
Samuel Langhorne Clemens, best known as Mark Twain, had many connections to the Beechers. Stowe’s brother Henry, a well known and well-connected Brooklyn minister, helped him negotiate terms for his book Innocents Abroad, and introduced him to the family of the woman who became his wife. Stowe’s brother, Thomas Beecher, performed the marriage ceremony for Clemens and Olivia Langdon as Olivia’s family’s minister. When the young Clemens couple moved to Hartford, they settled in Nook Farm, first renting Stowe’s brother-in-law and sister John and Isabella Beecher Hooker’s house and then building their own. They moved into their new home in 1874.
Clemens and his wife were a generation younger than Stowe and about the same age as Stowe’s twin daughters, Hattie and Eliza. The two families were friendly and socialized frequently at neighborhood parties and events.
Yes! Member and Donor generosity means the Stowe Center can provide exemplary programs and accomplish the mission. Be part of preserving Harriet Beecher Stowe’s history and inspiring commitment to social justice and positive change. Your gift helps strengthen the local and global community. Learn more about donations and membership levels.
The Mark Twain Visitor Center is around the corner from the Stowe Visitor Center. We are happy to direct you.
The two historic sites are neighboring museums that frequently collaborate.
Hartford is a vibrant and culturally rich city. Find suggestions for other great things to do in the area.
Thank you for your interest. Our invoicing policy can be found here.