By Mary Ellen White
(c) Connecticut Explored Inc. Summer 2011
Harriet Beecher Stowe’s home in Hartford’s Nook Farm is an international heritage tourist destination—but perhaps one you haven’t yet experienced. The Stowe Center draws visitors from all over to walk in the footsteps of the woman whose words changed the world. Make 2011, the bicentennial of Stowe’s birth, the year you visit for the first time, or the 50th time. This year (and indeed every year) is marked with engaging programs and initiatives that connect Stowe’s life and work to contemporary issues.
Visitors are invited to begin with a tour of Stowe’s beautiful Victorian Gothic Revival home and garden and then become more engaged through an active schedule of programs. Tours have seasonal themes, and visitors find that through Stowe’s many interests and passions, there is always a new way to view the author.
Thanks to the breadth of the Stowe Center’s collections, you’ll see different objects and artifacts on display from visit to visit. The Stowe House is largely furnished with family possessions and period pieces. Don’t miss the table in the front parlor—a wedding gift to Stowe from her father Lyman Beecher—where, it is said, she wrote part of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
The Salons at Stowe series has become a signature program that offers a forum for lively discussion of contemporary issues. On alternating Thursday evenings, the back parlor in the adjacent Katharine Day House becomes a hotbed of conversation on topics such as community building, race and justice, and educational inequities. Other programs, such as Nook Farm Book Talks (with the neighboring Mark Twain House), book signings, and lectures draw audiences into deep and spirited conversation.
As the premier repository of artifacts, material culture, and papers from the extended Beecher-Stowe families, the Stowe Center library and collections are used regularly and well by scholars,—including the Pulitzer Prize winners Joan Hedrick and Debby Applegate—public historians, and students of all ages.
This year will feature special events celebrating the bicentennial of Stowe’s birth. We hope to see you often!
There are many events happening during this anniversary year. Please note that an alternate location is listed when the event is held in a location other than the Stowe Center, 77 Forest Street, Hartford. For a complete list visit HarrietBeecherStowe.org.
June 2 and July 7
Nook Farm Book Talk, 5 – 6:30 p.m. Held monthly on First Thursdays alternating between the Stowe Center and the Mark Twain House. June 2: The Minister’s Wooing (1859) by Harriet Beecher Stowe, the Stowe Center. July 7: Joseph Hopkins Twichell: The Life & Times of Mark Twain’s Closest Friend (2008) by Steve Courtney, the Mark Twain House.
June 3, 2011 – April 1, 2012
Re-release of Uncle Tom’s Cabin in weekly, on-line installments every Friday for 41 weeks as it originally appeared in the National Era. Introductions by Stowe scholars, historians, and fans. Readers are encouraged to comment! www.stowecenter.org.
June 9 – 14, 2011 The Stowe Bicentennial Weekend
June 9, 2011
“Inspiration to Action” Fair, 3 – 4 p.m. Hartford-area grass roots human rights groups share their passions and strategies for change.
Salon at Stowe, 4 – 5:30 p.m. Change-making catalysts and organizations join Stowe Prize winners Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn in a discussion about creating social change. Audience participation (on site and on line) is encouraged. The Fair and the Salon are free and will be held consecutively at Immanuel Congregational Church, 10 Woodland Street, Hartford.
Stowe Prize Big Tent Jubilee, 5:30 – 10 p.m. Award ceremony and gala farm-to-table fundraising dinner on the Stowe Center grounds. Proceeds from this ticketed event will support the Stowe Center’s education programs. Ticket information: (860) 522-9258, ext. 305.
June 10 Call to Action: A Conversation on Race and Social Justice, 9:30 a.m. – noon. Legislative Office Building. The Congressional Black Caucus visits Hartford, co-hosted with Congressman John B. Larson. Area high school students and the public are invited to consider the future of social justice and civic engagement.
June 11 Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 200th Birthday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. A community open house featuring house tours, an interactive community art project, horse and carriage rides, readings from Uncle Tom’s Cabin in multiple languages, 19th-century lawn games, and more! The Harwinton Women’s Club will present a hand-embroidered quilt created in honor of Stowe’s Bicentennial.
June 14 24-hour reading of Uncle Tom’s Cabin begins at 10 a.m. Visit HarrietBeecherStowe.org for information about reading, attending, and live streaming of the reading.
June 26 Connecticut’s Historic Garden Day, 12 – 4 p.m.
Riverwood Poetry Festival, 2 – 4 p.m.
July 14 “Women and Their Music” Festival: an outdoor, family-friendly musical tribute to Harriet Beecher Stowe,1 – 4 p.m.
June 22 – 25 Harriet Beecher Stowe at 200 Conference: “Home, Nation, and Place in the 21st Century,” Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine. Sponsored by the Harriet Beecher Stowe Society. For more information visit www.StoweSociety.org.
Hartford Public Library: For more information visit www.hplct.org.
Litchfield Historical Society: For more information visit www.LitchfieldHistoricalSociety.org.