Explore the Hitchcock House Grounds

Located on a high hill and between two major trails, the Hitchcock House was an ideal location for helping freedom seekers.


What characteristics of the Hitchcock House would lead us to believe the home was part of the Underground Railroad?

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You are standing in front of the Hitchcock House. The Rev. George B. Hitchcock house is built in the Federal Style. This means that the house has no formal front porch, however, the house has a wooden slab in front of the front door to make it easier for visitors to get into the house. The house is built with locally sourced sandstone, limestone, walnut and oak. It is a two-story home. There are five windows at the front of the house. Three on the second floor and two on either side of the front door. You can also see four windows, two on the second floor and two on the ground floor on the west side of the home. The windows are known as six-on-six windows since they have six squares of glass on the top part of the window and six squares of glass on the bottom part of the window. The house sits on a slight hill overlooking the property.

House Description

The Hitchcock House, Lewis, Iowa

Rev. George B. Hitchcock’s house is built in the Federal Style with locally sourced sandstone, limestone, walnut and oak. It was completed in 1856. Hitchcock was known to be a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad, and this house was known to be a “station.” It was a welcome resting place for freedom seekers and abolitionists who traveled through the state.

Image 1: A map of Iowa with the Hitchcock House designated at Lewis, Iowa, which is in the southwestern side of the state. The Todd House is also designated on the map in the southwest corner of the state at Tabor just below Lewis.

Image 2: The side of the Hitchcock House. Big, white, wooden cellar doors are open on the side of the house.

Image 3: The Hitchcock House

Image 4: A stone and wooden sign that reads “Hitchcock House Underground Railroad Station.”

Image 5: A plaque set in stone that reads “This property has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior.”

Question A

What is unusual about this room for the time it was built? Knowing the Hitchcocks built this home, what does this room lead us to believe about the purpose of the basement entrance?

(Walking down into the basement through the white cellar doors at the side of the house. To the left of the entrance there is a white limestone fireplace. At the far corner, There a staircase leading up into the interior of the house. Straight ahead is a doorway leading into the second half of the basement.)

Question B

Bales of hay would not have been here when Hitchcock lived here. Why not? What would have been on the land surrounding the house instead of crops?

Question C

How is the prairie helpful in the freedom seekers’ journey across Iowa, especially as they approach a house?