© 2022 WSHU
NPR News & Classical Music
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Harriet Beecher Stowe's Litchfield Home Goes Up On eBay

harrietbeecherstoweandhouse.jpg

For sale, on eBay: a historic Litchfield, Connecticut, house that was the birthplace of abolitionist writer Harriet Beecher Stowe. Or the pieces of it, at least.

Those pieces are in the hands of an antiques dealer who says he wants to see the house reassembled and available to the public.

Art Pappas of Woodbury, Connecticut, bought the house three years ago. It was already disassembled and the pieces put in four different storage trailers.

“To the untrained eye it looks like a pile of wood. There’s hand-hewn beams, there’s the original flooring. There’s the original plaster walls, some of them have the original decoration on them.”

Harriet Beecher Stowe was born in the house in 1811, one of 11 children of a local preacher. She went on to write the abolitionist novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Later, the house was a sanitarium and a dorm for a private school. Pappas says with all that history, it deserves to be a museum.

But neither he nor the house’s previous owner could find a museum with the means to care for it, or a town with a place to put it.

“Red tape everywhere,” Pappas says.

That’s not to say there haven’t been inquiries.

“You know, I’ve had interest in people who want to put it up in their yard and just have a house. It’s not the ultimate goal for this. I would love for it to be somewhere properly restored, the public can get in and see what it looks like, and learn a little history at the same time.”

So Pappas listed the house on eBay. You can put in a bid for $400,000. Since he listed the house, he says he’s had calls from cities, towns and museums intrigued by the unique listing.

“I’m hoping one of them comes through.”

If no one comes through, Pappas says the worst-case scenario is he might have to sell the hand-hewn beams and plaster walls piece-by-piece – as building material.

Davis Dunavin loves telling stories, whether on the radio or around the campfire. He started in Missouri and ended up in Connecticut, which, he'd like to point out, is the same geographic trajectory taken by Mark Twain.