300 N Commons St W Tuscumbia, AL 35674
Mrs. Keller was an author & lecturer. Tuscumbia Alabama Museum, 640-acre tract, known as Ivy Green, Built in 1820
Gift Shop, Whistle Path
Mon-Sat: 8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Helen Keller Birthplace: A Walk Through History at Ivy Green, Alabama
Nestled in the heart of Tuscumbia, Alabama, lies Ivy Green, the birthplace of the iconic Helen Keller. This historic site stands as a tribute to the life and accomplishments of a remarkable woman who overcame insurmountable odds. Born on June 27, 1880, Helen Keller would go on to become a celebrated author, speaker, and activist. Ivy Green, now preserved as a museum, welcomes visitors from around the world to explore and learn about Helen Keller’s extraordinary journey.
Constructed in 1820, Ivy Green is a modest, white clapboard house surrounded by lush greenery and tall oak trees. The property spans over 640 acres, with the main house, outbuildings, and a well-preserved garden. The architecture is a testament to the Antebellum South, characterized by Greek Revival and Federalist elements. As visitors approach, the serene surroundings instill a sense of tranquility and timelessness, reflecting the rich history and legacy of the Keller family.
The centerpiece of the tour is the main house, where Helen Keller was born and spent her early years. The carefully preserved rooms showcase artifacts, photographs, and personal belongings that offer a glimpse into her life. Among the many fascinating exhibits, visitors can see Helen’s Braille typewriter, her original writing desk, and the water pump where she had her life-changing breakthrough with her teacher, Anne Sullivan.
Adjacent to the main house is the cottage where Anne Sullivan lived and worked with Helen. This small, two-room structure serves as a testament to their enduring partnership, which began in 1887 and lasted nearly 50 years. The cottage displays an array of personal items and memorabilia related to their work together, illustrating the unwavering dedication of both teacher and student.
One of the highlights of Ivy Green is the bronze statue depicting a young Helen Keller at the water pump, where she made her groundbreaking connection between the word “water” and the cool liquid flowing over her hand. This inspiring moment marked the beginning of Helen’s journey to learn and communicate, despite her deafness and blindness. The statue, created by renowned sculptor Edward Hlavka, serves as a poignant reminder of the transformative power of education and determination.
The serene grounds of Ivy Green also feature a garden, lovingly maintained and filled with fragrant flowers and plants native to Alabama. The garden not only provides a peaceful retreat for visitors but also reflects Helen’s deep connection to nature, which played a significant role in her education and development. Guests are invited to take a leisurely stroll through the garden, experiencing the sights and scents that were an integral part of Helen’s world.
Ivy Green hosts several annual events to celebrate Helen Keller’s legacy, the most notable being the Helen Keller Festival. Held every June to coincide with her birthday, the festival features a week-long series of educational and cultural activities, including theatrical performances, art displays, and guest speakers. The event draws thousands of attendees each year, further solidifying the importance of Helen Keller’s birthplace in the annals of American history.
A visit to Ivy Green offers a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in the life and legacy of Helen Keller, a woman who defied all odds to become an influential figure in American history. The tranquil setting, engaging exhibits, and poignant tributes found at her birthplace create an unforgettable experience that will inspire visitors for generations to come.