A REFUGE FOR FREEDOM-SEEKERS
From the outside it looks like a normal, beautifully-restored, Federal-style brick home built in 1839. On the inside, however, it has some unusual features that served an important purpose in American history. This eight-room home served as a safe haven for more than 1,000 freedom-seekers on their journey to Canada. Levi and Catharine Coffin’s home became known as “The Grand Central Station of the Underground Railroad.”
Being a Quaker home, the Coffin house would not have had many of the era’s decorative features such as narrow columns, delicate beading or dentil trim. During the 20 years they lived in Newport (now Fountain City), the Coffins worked to provide transportation, shelter, food and clothing to more than 1,000 freedom-seekers. Many of their stories are told in Levi Coffin’s 1876 memoir, Reminiscences.
For their journeys north, freedom-seekers often used three main routes to cross from slavery to freedom—through Madison or Jeffersonville in Indiana, or Cincinnati, Ohio. From these points, slaves traveled to Newport through the Underground Railroad. The Coffins’ “station” was so successful that every person who passed through eventually reached freedom.
The location of the house, on Highway 27 at the center of an abolitionist Quaker community, allowed the entire community to act as lookouts for the Coffins and give them plenty of warning when bounty hunters came into town.
“I had already risked every thing in the work – life, property, and reputation – and did not feel bound to respect human laws that came in direct contact with the law of God.”
See why this is named one of the top 25 historic sites in the nation!
The Coffin House was ranked as “one of the nation’s Top 25 Historical Sites” by the History Channel. In 2016, the Smithsonian named the Levi Coffin House Interpretive Center “one of 12 new museums around the world to visit,” while the Indiana Office of Tourism Development voted it as one of the top museums in the State of Indiana. Come see why.
Explore our Interpretive Center
Here you will learn about the history behind this historic site in an orientation video. Afterwards, tour the building (Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) to learn even more about the Coffins’ role in helping thousands find their way to freedom.
Experience the Underground Railroad
Lay your head in a mock false-bottom wagon to hear sounds of what it would have been like hiding in one of these escape tools. Try to lift a cotton bale, and learn about how slaves worked about one week to pick enough cotton for one bale.
Tour this Historic Landmark
Enjoy a guided tour of the actual home where the Coffins housed so many freedom-seekers. Inside you’ll find unique features like a basement kitchen, a spring-fed well in the basement, and large attic and storage garrets on the side of the rear room that served as convenient hiding places.
Explore Unique Artifacts
Escaping slaves were well hidden for their travels in wagons like this one, equipped with false-bottoms and used to transport freedom-seekers to the next safe house.
Programs & Events
Jun 3, 2023 3:30 pm - 5:00 pmLevi & Catharine Coffin
Historic Newport Walking Tour
Jun 17, 2023 10:00 am - 5:00 pmMultiple Locations
FREE DAY! Juneteenth
Jun 17, 2023 11:00 am - 3:00 pmLevi & Catharine Coffin
Celebrate Juneteenth: Earlham Jazz Band Performances
Jun 26, 2023 8:00 am - 5:00 pmLevi & Catharine Coffin
Teaching Freedom and Unfreedom Educator Workshop
Jul 1, 2023 3:30 pm - 5:00 pmLevi & Catharine Coffin
Historic Newport Walking Tour
Jul 29, 2023 1:00 pm - 2:00 pmLevi & Catharine Coffin
What We Can Learn From the Dead: Willow Grove Cemetery Tour
True Stories from the Underground Railroad
Eileen Baker-Wall grew up in Fountain City and has been a longtime volunteer at the site. The shoe she is holding belonged to her great-great grandfather William Bush. Stories of her grandfather were passed down in her family, ones that tell of William’s escape from slavery in North Carolina, sometime in the 1840s. According to family stories, part of William’s escape included hiding inside a wooden crate that was supposedly shipped to Levi Coffin in Newport (now Fountain City).
Our Members Preserve this Lasting Legacy
Our members help preserve and protect the valuable lessons that sites like this provide visitors from all over the world. What will you learn today?Become a Member Today
Wednesday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Thursday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Friday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Memorial Day (May 29) – Open
Juneteenth (June 17) – Free admission
Labor Day (Sept. 4) – Open
Thanksgiving (Nov. 23) – Closed
Christmas Eve (Dec. 24) – Closed
Christmas Day (Dec. 25) – Closed
Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Plan Your Trip
Timed, indoor tours are available Wednesday through Sunday at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
No use of paranormal equipment of any kind is permitted on tours.
Walk up tour tickets are subject to availability. Purchasing online or by calling the site is recommended to ensure tour registration especially when visiting on a free day or when schools are in session.Purchase Tickets
Participate in a scavenger hunt
In 2019, Fountain City received a designation on the National Register as a historic district. This community, which started in the early 1800s, has a variety of buildings and homes that show a range of architectural styles.
From April through October, enjoy a fun and engaging scavenger hunt as you try and find and identify great historic features. Return your answers to the Coffin Interpretive Center for a keepsake! To start, come to the Coffin gift shop and ask how to participate. Cost is $2 per family.
Receive $1 off regular admission with a group of 15 or more. Groups are asked to book a time and date for their tours in advance. Please call 765.847.1691 or email [email protected] to make a reservation.
Special discounts are available for educators and education groups, military, Access Pass holders and more. View all discounts >>
Field trip admission is free for pre-scheduled, accredited schools and homeschool groups of 10 or more Indiana K-12 students. Call 765.847.1691 to schedule your visit. Non-Indiana school groups pay a $2 per person admission rate for a pre-registered visit.
Academic topics covered include abolitionism, Underground Railroad in Indiana, slavery and law.
Learn more about field trip and school program offerings in the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites PreK-12 Education Program Guide. View guide >>
Commercial Photography And Videography
If you are a photographer looking to book a shoot at Levi and Catharine Coffin State Historic Site, please review our commercial photography policy and application process. Learn more >>
LOOKING TO BOOK A FIELD TRIP?
Help bring history, science, art and education to life for your students with a one-of-a-kind field trip experience. All state historic sites support Indiana Academic Standards, and feature a variety of academic topics. Call 765.847.1691 to schedule your visit to Levi & Catharine Coffin House.Learn More in Our Educator Program Guide
201 U.S. 27 North, Fountain City, IN 47341
On U.S. 27, look for a two-story white building with a blue sign that says “Levi and Catharine Coffin State Historic Site”.