The Indiana Insider Blog

Wayne County Treasures: The Levi Coffin House

I recently spent a day in Wayne County discovering what attractions the area has to offer. This is the fourth post in a four-post series about my trip.

North of Richmond, Fountain City tells its fascinating history. In the middle of town stands an orange house that appears old but unimpressive at first glance. Yet between its walls, the stories of history were born.

Photo credit: beccafromportland: flickr.com/photos/becca3k/

The Levi Coffin House was built in 1839 by Levi and Catharine Coffin, Quakers who opposed slavery and were committed to helping runaway slaves escape to freedom. Their home essentially became the grand central station of the Underground Railroad, and every runaway slave who stayed at the house successfully reached freedom.

My visit to this house was a highlight of my trip to Wayne County. The tour guide who showed me around was enthusiastic and clearly passionate about the history she was relating to me, which always makes a tour better. She told me about the important artifacts found in the house and spun me some tales from Levi’s book Reminisces of Levi Coffin.

We walked through the main floor and the upstairs, where I got to see the tiny door in the wall where runaways were hidden to sleep during the day. I glanced up the steep attic stairs and went through the gardens before stepping inside the barn where an actual false-bottom wagon and a carriage are kept. Finally, we carefully made our way down to the basement, which housed the kitchen and an indoor well, filled by the natural springs of Fountain City.

The house is still decorated with period-appropriate furniture, tools, kitchenware and decor, though most of them did not belong to the Coffins. It also holds a pair of wooden shoes that belonged to William Bush, an escaped slave who stayed with the Coffins to help with the Underground Railroad.

The enormity of the history that took place in this house filled me with awe and appreciation for the risk that people like the Coffins took to help others. Whether you tend to be interested in history or not, I highly recommend a visit to this house. Admission is only $2 for adults and $1 for children 18 and under.

If you are planning a trip to Wayne County, be sure to check out discounts and overnight packages offered by the Richmond/Wayne County Visitors Bureau, including their incredible “Just Us Girls” getaway package.

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