The Growlery

A tiny stone cabin surrounded by greenery
A modern reconstruction of the Growlery sits on the site of the original structure.

NPS / N. Johnson

A growlery is a place to growl. Charles Dickens coined the word "growlery" in his novel Bleak House. Probably inspired by Dickens, Frederick Douglass referred to a tiny stone cabin at Cedar Hill as his "Growlery."

Frederick Douglass's Growlery contained a single room with a fireplace. Douglass kept it simply furnished with a desk, stool, and couch. He retreated here to do some of his deep thinking, writing, and reading in seclusion.

One reporter whom Douglass allowed inside the "peculiar little house" in 1889 found a cozy fire burning in the fireplace and the desk "literally filled with books and paper."

Today, visitors can step inside this reconstruction of the Growlery during open hours. Built by the National Park Service in 1981, the reconstruction uses materials from the original structure and sits on its original location.

Last updated: August 24, 2017

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