(March 16, 2020) At direction of the governor and following recommendations from the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH), all 12 locations of the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites will be temporarily closed beginning March 17 in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. This decision was made out of an abundance of caution, to protect the safety and health of our staff, volunteers and visitors.
As conductors for the Underground Railroad, Levi and Catharine Coffin helped more than 1,000 freedom seekers to safety while living in Newport (now Fountain City), Indiana.
Activities to enjoy:
201 U.S. 27 North
Fountain City, IN 47341
On U.S. 27, look for a two-story white building with a brown sign that says “Levi and Catharine Coffin State Historic Site".
Tuesday – Sunday
10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Closed Mondays* and April 12 (Easter)
Open Jan. 1 (New Year’s Day), *Jan. 20 - FREE (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day), Feb. 17 - FREE (Presidents’ Day), March 23 & 30 (Spring Break)
Open with FREE admission April 4 for Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day with valid Museum Day ticket, available at Smithsonianmag.com/museumday.
If you plan on visiting the site during the months school is in session, Tuesday through Friday, please call ahead. Due to a number of school groups visits, guided tours of the Coffin home may be limited. Please call ahead to find out if your visit may be impacted.
Admission includes visitation of the Interpretive Center and a one-hour guided tour of the Coffin home. You'll hear stories about how the Coffins supported the development of the Underground Railroad in Wayne County, and the experience of freedom seekers at the Coffin home.
Purchase tickets in person at the Levi and Catharine Coffin Interpretive Center.
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.
Special discounts are available for educators and education groups, military, Access Pass holders and more. View all discounts >>
Become a member and receive free unlimited admission to Levi and Catharine Coffin State Historic Site and all 12 statewide locations of the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites. Members also receive 10 percent discount in the gift shop and free admission to more than 300 museum and science centers worldwide. Learn more about membership options.
We hope to see you at our upcoming events. Visit our calendar for a list of events happening at all 12 Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites locations.
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 >>
Consider hosting your special event at Levi and Catharine Coffin State Historic Site. Please fill out our inquiry form to receive information.
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 >>
Volunteers--especially tour guides--are an integral part of bringing Levi and Catharine Coffin’s story to life. For information about joining our volunteer team, call 765.847.1691 or email LeviCoffinCenter@indianamuseum.org.
This eight-room home was the third home of Levi and Catharine Coffin in Newport, and it was a safe haven for hundreds of fugitive slaves on their journey to Canada. Levi and Catharine Coffin’s home became known as “The Grand Central Station of the Underground Railroad.” The Coffins and others who worked on this special “railroad” were defying federal laws of the time.
From the outside it looks like a normal, beautifully-restored, Federal-style brick home built in 1839. 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. On the inside, however, it has some unusual features that served an important purpose in American history. Most rooms in the home have at least two ways out, there is a spring-fed well in the basement for easy access to water, plenty of room upstairs allowed for extra visitors, and large attic and storage garrets on the side of the rear room made for convenient hiding places. 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.
For their journey north, freedom seekers often used three main routes to cross from slavery to freedom — through Madison or Jeffersonville in Indiana, or Cincinnati, OH. From these points, slaves traveled to Newport through the Underground Railroad. The Coffins’ “station” was so successful that every slave who passed through eventually reached freedom.
The Levi Coffin Home is a National Historic Landmark and has been named as one of the top 25 historic sites in the nation to visit. The house contains original furniture pieces from the Newport community and some from the Coffin family.
LEVI AND CATHARINE COFFIN
Levi and Catharine Coffin were Quakers from North Carolina who opposed slavery and became very active with the Underground Railroad in Indiana. During the 20 years they lived in Newport (now Fountain City), they worked to provide transportation, shelter, food and clothing for hundreds of freedom seekers. Many of their stories are told in Levi Coffin’s 1876 memoir, Reminiscences.
As a child in the south, Levi witnessed the cruelty of slavery and, later with his wife Catharine, “did not feel bound to respect human laws that came in direct contact with the law of God.” While many Quakers did not believe in slavery, few were active abolitionists and even fewer risked their lives and freedom to actively help slaves escape bondage. Others in the Newport community who were unwilling to directly help freedom seekers provided the Coffins with money, extra food, clothing and protection for their work.
Levi was a well-respected community leader with several business interests in Newport. Instead of hiding his work, he jokingly boasted about being the “President of the Underground Railroad” and publically spoke out against slavery. He often used the law to his advantage and was friends with Henry Ward Beecher and Frederick Douglass. Catharine was also deeply committed to the cause. She organized sewing circles that made new clothing for freedom seekers and ensured their safety and comfort in their home.
In 1847, the Coffins moved to Cincinnati so Levi could operate a wholesale warehouse supplying goods to free-labor stores. The Coffins continued to assist fugitives on their escape to freedom.
Levi continued to help African Americans right up until his death. He spent his last years campaigning for donations to help fund food, clothing and educational supplies for the newly-freed slaves dumped into refugee camps after the war.
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