"Much of the money that Harriet Beecher Stowe earned from her writing went into building Oakholm, her first house in Hartford. Having purchased the lot along the Park River in 1860, she contracted, in the fall of 1862, with the man who had built Isabella and John Hooker's house, Octavius Jordan, a man 'so perfectly honest and faithful that he almost cheated himself,' Harriet assured her husband, Calvin. They saved on lumber because the chestnut and oak trees on the lot were so plentiful that the carpenter worked some of them up for use in the house, and still left all they wanted for shade and beauty.
"Harriet supervised the opening of the street, the digging of the drains, and the details of the architect's plans, putting off her family, who were impatient for her return to Andover. 'It is a heavy responsibility for a woman like me in delicate health to prepare a home and move a family,' she told them, 'and however pleasant it may be to have your mother at home -- you will soon have no home at all if I do not now make the preparations of it an immediate object.' In fact, Mrs. Stowe relished domestic convulsions and threw herself into this project whole hog. She wrote to James Fields:
'Tell Mrs. Fields that my house with eight gables is growing wonderfully and that I go every day to see it -- I am busy with drains sewers sinks digging trenching -- and above all with manure. You should see the joy with which I gaze on manure heaps in which the eye of faith sees Delaware grapes and d'Angouleme pears and all sorts of roses and posies.'
"The trouble and fuss of building a house was considerable, but it had the advantage of taking her mind off the Civil War. It also gave her the idea for her most successful wartime series, the 'House and Home Papers'."