Learn the story: From slavery to the White House

The Osborne Homestead Museum in Derby will celebrate the ninth annual Connecticut Open House Day on Saturday, June 8, 2013 with guided tours and, at an adjacent location, a one-woman show about a woman going from slavery to a White House job.

On Open House Day, Connecticut residents are invited to discover — and rediscover — the state’s arts, history and tourism offerings, with many venues offering free or discounted admission and special programming.

Guided tours and a show

At the Osborne Homestead Museum, guided tours will introduce visitors to the life of Frances Osborne Kellogg and the collection of antiques and fine art at her Colonial revival house.

At the nearby Kellogg Environmental Center at 2 p.m., a one-woman performance, “They Called Me Lizzy…from Slavery to the White House,” will be presented. It tells the true life story of Elizabeth (Hobbs) Keckly — her rise from slavery to entrepreneurial freedom, then scandal and decline.

Keckly was best known as dressmaker to Mary Todd Lincoln and as author of Behind the Scenes: 30 Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House. The performance by Stephanie Jackson lasts one hour.

The Elizabeth Keckly story

Elizabeth (Hobbs) Keckly was born into slavery in 1818, but eventually managed to purchase her freedom. She made her way to Washington D.C., where her dressmaking skills and entrepreneurial savvy brought her to the attention of many political families.

Once the Lincolns arrived in Washington, there was no turning back for Keckly. Mary Lincoln hired her, and she was often present with President and Mrs. Lincoln during some of their most private and difficult moments.

About the location

The state-run Osborne Homestead Museum and Kellogg Environmental Center are at 500 Hawthorne Ave., Derby, just across the Housatonic River from Shelton.

The Osborne Homestead Museum is open for guided tours through October on Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; and Sunday, noon-4 p.m. The Kellogg Environmental Center is open Tuesday to Saturday from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Museum tours are free. A $5 donation is being requested for the June 8 performance.  For reservations or information, call 203-734-2513.