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Ivy Green - The Birthplace of Helen Keller (with Pictures!)

Updated on October 23, 2011
A statue of Helen on display in the museum ©MBG
A statue of Helen on display in the museum ©MBG

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.

Helen's beautiful childhood home ©MBG
Helen's beautiful childhood home ©MBG

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.

Helen's bedroom, complete with a crazy quilt, and Helen's original dresses on display ©MBG
Helen's bedroom, complete with a crazy quilt, and Helen's original dresses on display ©MBG

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.

The Keller family dining room, complete with original china (china which Helen use to throw during temper tantrums) ©MBG
The Keller family dining room, complete with original china (china which Helen use to throw during temper tantrums) ©MBG

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 Helen's many Braille books on display. ©MBG
One of Helen's many Braille books on display. ©MBG

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.

The infamous water pump where Anne taught Helen how to think, communicate, and live. ©MBG
The infamous water pump where Anne taught Helen how to think, communicate, and live. ©MBG

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.

A historical marker, marking Ivy Green as a significant historical site. ©MBG
A historical marker, marking Ivy Green as a significant historical site. ©MBG

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.

A marker300 North Commons Street West Tuscumbia, AL 35674 -
Commons St, Tuscumbia, AL 35674, USA
get directions

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      sumanth 2 years ago

      what is ivy green and why was it called so??

    • megni profile image

      megni 6 years ago

      This is the third note. I am signed in and this is my picture.

    • profile image

      megni 6 years ago

      A footnote to the above emegni. That is meant to be megni.

    • profile image

      Emegni 6 years ago

      Quite Interesting. I didn't know Helen Keller was from Alabama! She's such a celebrity I just assumed she was from New England. Actually never thought of it, but if asked would have thought that.

      Just shows you what little I know of this American Icon. Why I am now concerned and why I searched out information on Hubpages is a book by John Macy on my book on my book shelves.

      The Story of the World's Literture caught my eye at a Huntington, WV booksale a few year's ago. It was an interesting book and is somewhat unique in that the author explains brainy and hard to understand subjects in an easy to understand way.

      I wanted to know more about him and in my quest I learned he was the husband of Ann Sullivan, Helen Keller's companion. In fact it was he who helped her with her books and for a time was her publisher.

      What I want to know is how does this information fit in with her house and the momentoes and her history in Tuskaloosa? Is he simply out of the picture or is he credited with helping her?

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