Ivy Green - The Birthplace of Helen Keller (with Pictures!)
Two hours northeast of Birmingham, and an hour west of Huntsville, lies the beautiful and cozy small town of Tuscumbia, Alabama (see map below for directions and address). With quaint main street, and only about 2 square blocks, this town is known as being the birthplace and childhood home of the famous and inspirational Helen Keller. Every year, thousands from all over the world visit here in order to be closer to a true hero of history. Blind and deaf from near birth, Helen Keller went on to learn how to communicate, write (13 books!), and even speak. When Helen was 7 years old, her teacher, Anne Sullivan, used the family's water pump, located here, to teach Helen that every object had a word.
Just east of town is the a medium plot of land known as Ivy Green. This small house (considered big in the 19th century) is where Helen grew up. Upon visiting the house, guests can enter almost every room, including the dining room, Helen's bedroom, and a makeshift museum. The entire house, including the museum, retains many of Helen's, and the Keller family's original possessions.
These include photographs, old china, Helen's dresses and Braille Books, and furniture (if anyone has seen the famous movie "The Miracle Worker," guest can see the china Helen use to throw during her temper tantrums from a famous scene in the film). Guests can walk freely, or have a tour guide lead them around (this tour guide, a kind little old lady, also runs the museum. She is full of useful information!). There is also a small gift shop, with many of Helen's books for sale.
Guests are also free to walk around the premises of Ivy Green. Here, guests can see beautiful gardens (gardens where, as a child, Helen developed a love for nature) filled with many different kinds of flowers. There also exists a guest house, an external kitchen, and living quarters for the family's servants. There are also various monuments donated by various people from around the world in Helen's honor, including a large fountain, and a Maori meeting house entrance.
One of the more memorable structures that can be seen at Ivy Green is the famous water pump where Anne Sullivan taught how to communicate, a day Helen remembered as her "soul's birthday." The original pump still stands under a beautiful gazebo.
There also exist a large stage on the grounds, where, for an entire week in July, the town puts on the theatrical version of "the Miracle Worker." Called the "Helen Keller Festival," this week long event draws thousands with various events, great food, and music - all in Helen's honor.
Helen's family also still lives in town, and if you're lucky, you may just meet Helen's great grandniece, Keller Thompson, who loves to tell unheard stories of her aunt. All in All, a trip to Tuscumbia makes for a great weekend trip. Aside from Ivy Green, there are a few century and a half old churches to visit, as well as a beautiful park near a local river (with many American Indian memorials). If you go, make sure to visit Frank's Restaurant, a surprisingly excellent Italian restaurant for such a small town.