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Steep premium sought for house where family says 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' was written

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Photos: The pricey Maine home where Harriet Beecher Stowe (may have) penned 'Uncle Tom's Cabin'
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Harriet Beecher Stowe

The town of Brunswick assesses the value of this property, parcel U09-51, at $154,300. Zillow estimates its worth at $246,395.

The six-bedroom, one-bathroom home, with 3,500 square feet of living space on half an acre of land, is for sale for the first time in at least a century -- for $3 million. (Click here or on a photo to go to a slideshow of the house.)

Why the huge gap?

The home may have played an important role in helping to end slavery. Now located at 28 College St. in Brunswick, Maine -- and owned by the same family since 1905 -- it's said to have an impressive literary pedigree and an old window etching to prove it: Stories passed down through a century's worth of family generations say that Harriet Beecher Stowe rented a room here to seek peace and quiet from her six children so she could write her abolitionist novel "Uncle Tom's Cabin."

Backing up the lore, a window etching says "angels home." Family stories hold that it's in Stowe's hand and refers to a song sung by Uncle Tom in the novel.

But the pedigree, reported by outlets including Zillow Blog, the Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal, is challenged by Bowdoin College, according to a story on the Bangor (Maine) Daily News website.

“In our view, this counterclaim about the location of Stowe’s work is merely an attempt to sell a once-moved historic Brunswick house at an inflated price,” Bowdoin spokesman Scott Hood told the reporters. Bowdoin owns the house that Stowe and her family lived in at the time.

Current owner Arline Pennell Lay says that soon after her grandfather James W. Coffin bought the home, he moved it to "save its historic value," the Maine website reported. (Historic preservation is reportedly also why the family never added more bathrooms to the house.)

The pedigree will be hard to prove. The Wall Street Journal said that the family had reported finding Stowe's rental receipts, but the story on the Bangor site said no one in the family offered up documents or even referred to any when its reporters talked to the family.

The home's website says: "Offers will be considered from buyers who agree to maintain the historical context of the house into the future, as it is registered with the historical society in town and is in the process of being registered with the federal and state historical societies."

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