Reading books is an amazing way to travel just about anywhere, without leaving your home. However, sometimes our family likes to actually travel, and there’s nothing I love more than checking out a destination that has literary ties.
Limberlost State Historic Site in Geneva, Indiana
Recently, my oldest son and I headed north to Geneva, Indiana to visit Limberlost, the home of author Gene Stratton-Porter and the inspiration for some of her most popular books. I had read Stratton-Porter’s books Freckles and A Girl of the Limberlost as a child, but I didn’t know much about her life and her legacy. I was excited to learn that Gene Stratton-Porter was a strong and capable woman who didn’t let the conventions of her time keep her from pursuing what she loved.
Gene Stratton-Porter was born in Lagro, Indiana in 1863. She loved animals, and that love made her want to learn all she could about the animals native to her area. She studied nature meticulously, and even though she wasn’t university-educated, she authored many nature studies about the wildlife living in the Indiana wetlands. She was also an amazingly talented nature photographer. In her later years, she moved to California and founded a movie production company.
Our tour guide, Jeanne, was a wealth of information about Gene Stratton-Porter’s life and work. She made the author’s life come alive, and we could see a clear connection between Stratton-Porter’s life at Limberlost and the characters and stories in her novels. The home and grounds are beautifully preserved, and they highlight the various areas where Stratton-Porter shined: as an author, as a photographer, as a naturalist, and as an entrepreneur.
My favorite part of the tour was getting to explore the large, beautiful home where Stratton-Porter lived with her husband and her daughter, Jeannette. There was something really magical about being in the office where she typed her books, and seeing the bathroom (!) where she developed her photos. The more I learned about Gene Stratton-Porter on our tour, the more I was impressed by this woman who was a pioneer in so many areas, at a time when women’s roles were often limited.
Before You Go
I highly recommend reading Gene Stratton-Porter’s novels Freckles and A Girl of the Limberlost before you visit. The tour is fascinating on its own, but knowing these stories will really enhance your experience. They are also great stories to read with your children!
Limberlost State Historic Site is family-friendly but will probably be most appreciated by older school aged children. My nine-year-old son was a wonderful companion. Limberlost is open Tuesday-Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Thank you to the Indiana State Museum for hosting us!