Grand Central Station of the Underground Railroad

Welcome to the home of Levi and Catharine Coffin

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.”

Live Coffin House

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.

Map of Underground Railroad
Upstairs room at Coffin House

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.”

Levi Coffin

Kitchen at Coffin House

See why this is named one of the top 25 historic sites in the nation!

The Coffin House was ranked by The History Channel as “one of the nation’s Top 25 Historical Sites.” In 2016, the Smithsonian named the Levi Coffin House Interpretive Center as “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.

Levi Coffin House Interpretive Center

Explore our Interpretive Center

Here you will learn about the history behind this historic site in an orientation video. Afterwards, tour the building 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.

false-bottom wagon experience
Basement Well

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.

The False Bottom Wagon

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).

Eileen Baker-Wall
Children Exploring Coffin House

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

Plan Your Trip

  • Hours & Tickets

    Wednesday – Sunday
    10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

    Closed Mondays*, Tuesdays, Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

    Open *Martin Luther King Jr. Day (FREE), *President’s Day (FREE), *Memorial Day, *Labor Day.

    Open for preregistered programs only on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

    Call site for local Spring Break hours.

    If you plan on visiting the site during the months school is in session, Wednesday through Friday, please call ahead. Due to a number of school group visits, guided tours of the Coffin home may be limited. Please call ahead to find out if your visit may be impacted.

    Purchase Tickets
  • Tours

    Due to COVID-19 and social distancing requirements, we are offering special timed, indoor tours for a maximum of 10 people, Wednesday through Sunday. Cost for these timed, indoor tours is included with admission, but pre-registration is required by calling 765.847.1691. Please arrive at least 10 minutes prior to your tour start time to avoid losing your place on the tour. The schedule is as follows:

    Daily Schedule

    Guided indoor tours
    10:30 to 11:30 a.m. & 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.

    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. Enjoy a fun and engaging scavenger hunt as a family as you try and find and identify great historic features. Return your answers to the Levi and Catharine Coffin Interpretive Center for a keepsake! Families can enjoy this scavenger hunt starting in July 2020. Just come to the Levi and Catharine Coffin Interpretive Center gift shop and ask how to participate. Cost is $2 per family.

     

  • Contact

  • Group Rate

    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 LeviCoffinCenter@indianamuseum.org to make a reservation.

  • Discounts

    Special discounts are available for educators and education groups, military, Access Pass holders and more. View all discounts >>

  • School Groups

    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 >>

Children Under 3 Admission: Free
Youth (Ages 3 - 17) Admission: $5
Adults (Ages 18 - 59) Admission: $10
Seniors (Ages 60+) Admission: $8
Members Admission: Free

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

Visit Today

On U.S. 27, look for a two-story white building with a brown sign that says “Levi and Catharine Coffin State Historic Site”.