Ivy Green – Home to America’s “First Lady of Courage” Helen Keller

“Wasn’t she purdy?”

Helen Keller Portrait

Helen Keller

Okay, maybe she said “pretty” but the docent’s Alabama drawl and obvious affection for Helen Keller was unmistakable. As I studied the portrait of the home’s famous resident I was captivated by the story of the woman lovingly called America’s First lady of Courage.

Birthplace of Helen Keller

Ivy Green in Tuscumbia, Alabama

Ivy Green in Tuscumbia, Alabama is the family home of Helen Keller. A land sale in the early 1800’s brought the Keller family to the small Southern town and in 1820 Helen’s grandfather built the modest home.

Ivy Green in Tuscumbia, Alabama

Ivy Green

It’s here Helen was born a healthy child in June of 1880. A tragic illness at the young age of 19 months left her deaf and blind.

My guide sorrowfully conveyed details of a high fever causing the beautiful child’s loss of hearing and sight.

“They didn’t have medicine for a fever back then. All they could do was put poor Helen in cool water.”

 Helen Keller's birthplace Ivy Green

As I made my way through the main home I was regaled with stories of Anne Sullivan and how she came to Ivy Green to teach young Helen.

Sullivan noticed upon her arrival the family unwittingly hindering Helen’s progress. She felt she could better help Helen if she were away from them for a while.  It took an elaborate trick  to make Helen think she and her teacher had gone far from Tuscumbia.

Ivy Green Helen Keller's birthplace

The cottage at Ivy Green

Sullivan and Helen were taken on a carriage ride lasting several hours. Helen believed she had gone far away, but their true destination was the cottage next to the main home.  It was in and around the cottage Sullivan went about teaching her young student.

Helen didn’t suspected a thing until a couple of weeks later when one of the family dogs wandered over to the cottage.  It was then  Helen discovered she had been at home all along.

Visiting Ivy Green was noteworthy. One of the first books I remember reading as a little girl was about Helen Keller. I’d seen “The Miracle Worker” on TV. However, there was something significant and moving about reaching out and touching the well pump where Anne Sullivan broke through the world of silence and darkness Helen was living in to spell out a simple word. W-A-T-E-R.

The well at Ivy Green Helen Keller's birthplace

The famous well pump where Helen learned her first word.

The home attracts visitors from around the world and is a veritable shrine filled with important artifacts and images of Helen’s life.

Standing in her home and seeing the tools and devices this amazing woman used in order to become the first deaf woman in America to graduate college, one can’t help feeling uplifted and awed by her accomplishments.

It’s also a powerful emotion being cognizant of the millions of lives improved by this brilliant woman and her faithful friend and teacher.

Ivy Green birthplace of Helen Keller

Helen’s braille machine and other artifacts on display.

Ivy Green is one of those travel stops that isn’t solely about going to see. This is a place that draws you in and enthralls. The guides love their subject matter and sharing Helen’s story and her home.  They  leave their guests touched by a visit memorable long after the journey ends .

 Helen Keller's birthplace

 If you like this please share it with your friends.  And as always, Happy Travels!

Share this article

Comments

  • July 17, 2013

    Excellent site you have here but I was wanting to know
    if you knew of any message boards that cover the same
    topics discussed in this article? I’d really love to be a part of online community where I can get comments from other knowledgeable individuals that share the same interest. If you have any recommendations, please let me know. Bless you!

    • July 18, 2013

      So glad you like the site! I don’t know of any sites like you’ve described but if I hear of any I’ll be sure to pass it along. Thanks for visiting and happy travels!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: