Episcopal Church of Our Saviour, 12236 Mandarin Road
Saturday, October 17 from 10 am – 11:30 am


Dr. Michele C. Navakas, Scrub-Palmetto and Orange: Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Florida

No one today would describe the land between Mandarin and Jacksonville as “thousands of acres of good land, near to a market, near to a great river on which three or four steamboats are daily plying, that can be had for five dollars per acre, and for even less than that.” But that is how Harriet Beecher Stowe described it in Palmetto-Leaves (1872), her book of letters from Florida. Mrs. Stowe purchased thirty of those acres and a small “cottage” at Mandarin in 1867, and for seventeen years she made it a winter home for herself, her husband Calvin and two of her daughters. The geography, climate, and way of life in Florida were very different from the New England that the Stowe family knew, and Stowe described her Florida experience as a “tumble-down, wild, picnicky” existence. But she also learned to appreciate Florida for all of the ways it differed from more familiar parts of the country.

Many say that Harriet Beecher Stowe was the most famous woman in America at the time she came south after the Civil War. Her anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) was still being read all over the world. She could have come to Florida to rest on her laurels – to relax and get away from the cold and the attention. Instead, she came to make an impact on Florida’s future growth and development as a state.

You are invited to “hear the rest of the story” and see rare images of Stowe’s Florida at this special talk, which is hosted by the Episcopal Diocese of Florida, Episcopal Church of Our Saviour, Mandarin Museum & Historical Society, and Jacksonville Historical Society. You will learn why Stowe came to Florida, what she thought about it, and how she impacted Mandarin and beyond in the areas of religion, education, environmental appreciation, and tourism at a critical time in Florida history.

Dr. Michele Navakas is Associate Professor of English at Miami University of Ohio where she teaches early American literature, culture, and environment. Dr. Navakas is the author of Liquid Landscape: Geography and Settlement at the Edge of Early America (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018), which tells the story of Florida’s early settlement through the maps, short stories, novels, and letters of literary figures from William Bartram to Harriet Beecher Stowe. Liquid Landscape won the 2019 Rembert Patrick Award and the 2019 Stetson Kennedy Award from the Florida Historical Society.