100 years ago, if you enjoyed reading, chances are you would have been familiar with author Gene Stratton Porter. She was a Hoosier native, born in Lagro, Indiana, in 1863. Her name was Geneva, which was ironic because she moved to the town of Geneva when she married Charles Porter in 1889.
A friend was passing through Geneva, so we made plans to visit Gene’s Geneva home, called Limberlost, on a sunny July Sunday.
As I drove there, along the country roads (no interstate leads to Geneva), I was struck by how beautiful it is. I had just returned from vacation, where my camera was always ready to take pictures. But really, much of everyday life is photo-worthy, too.
Soon I had arrived: Limberlost Historic Site.
Gene’s house is still in excellent shape, although our (very interesting and informative) guide told us that repairs are always being made. Gene and her husband built the house in a rustic style that had fascinated them when they saw examples of it at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Most of the wood beams have been replaced now, but they look very close to the original.
Gene and Charles had just one child, a daughter named Jeannette. Many of the upstairs bedrooms were rented out to schoolteachers and others.
In addition to writing, Gene was also an avid photographer and naturalist. See all the windows on the right side of the house? That was her “greenhouse”-like area. How cheery it must have been to have a room like this!
It was also quite inventive for the time, with drains in the floor as well as along the shelves to allow for easy watering of plants.
The front room featured a desk and typewriter where Gene worked on her books. The whole house had a cozy, “warm” feel.
Our guide told us that Gene used the room above as the site of a scene in her book, “Girl of the Limberlost.” He read us a passage from the book describing the room. He also told us the Gene herself is a character in the book — she is the “Bird Woman.” Both “Girl of the Limberlost” and “Freckles,” arguably her most popular works, were written while she lived here.
Have you ever read a book by Gene Stratton Porter?
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