Open Door

Open Door
Indianapolis, Indiana

Friday, February 10, 2012

Some Other Indiana Second Empires

Back in July, we were all having problems being patient while waiting to close on the Horner House. Amanda & I decided to spend some time visiting house museums to gather ideas and  keep our spirits up as the wait dragged on. Since we didn’t have time to travel very far, we stuck to a few house museums around the central & southern part of Indiana.

We thought our Indiana followers might find some of the same places as enjoyable as we did. So here’s a quick rundown of some truly special places. I’m only including exterior shots of four of them but there are links to each of their websites.

We spent an afternoon at the  Morris-Butler House in Indianapolis. This Indiana Landmarks owned Second Empire, built in 1864-1865, would be a great way to spend an afternoon. Just driving around the Near Northside was inspiring.

Morris-Butler House, Indianapolis, IN

One weekend, we decided to drive to Richmond, IN to visit The Gaar House. This spectacular Second Empire farm house was built in 1876. It is amazing that the Gaar family still owns the property 136 years later. They even have the original architectural plans on display. We met some of the family and they couldn’t have been more gracious. It makes a great day trip from Indy.

 Gaar Mansion and Farm Museum, Richmond, IN

Then we decided to do a 3 day 2 night Southern Indiana tour. We left Indy and headed to Evansville to visit the Reitz Mansion. This beautiful mansion built in 1872 was so fascinating that we walked the tour twice. There were so many breath taking homes in Evansville, we wished we had planned to stay longer. We left Evansville and headed east to stay at The Market Street Inn in Jeffersonville, IN. This stately Second Empire, built in 1881, had been badly damaged by a fire when the owners purchased it. They’ve converted it into a wonderful inn and the breakfast was fabulous.

 Reitz Mansion, Evansville, IN

The following morning, we headed to New Albany to see the Culbertson Mansion which is maintained by the State of IN. This Second Empire was built 1863 – 1867 and contains 25 rooms in 3 stories. The ceilings and crown moldings are incredible. Ironically, the docent called in sick the day we were there and we had  the  new Site Director all to ourselves for several hours.

 Culbertson Mansion, New Albany, IN - Side View
Although we hated to leave, we headed to Madison, IN for the night. We finished off our trip with tours of the Lanier Mansion and the Sullivan House. I’ve loved the Lanier Mansion since my first visit at 10 years old. The Sullivan House is a new favorite, the original owner actually gave Indianapolis its name. By the time we were headed home, Amanda and Eric actually had a tentative closing date.

Tell us about some of your favorite house museums in Indianapolis, Indiana or where ever. Thanks for your support of my ramblings and the work on the house. It helps to keep us motivated!


  1. Hey Mary, the photo you have marked as Morris-Butler is incorrect. I think it's the Benton House in Irvington. I lived in the Morris-Butler house for about 2 years as a caretaker/docent back in the early 90's.

  2. What a Fun sounding trip! I can't wait to see what great inspirations from these old beauties that you'll be implementing on the Horner house.

  3. Beth - I'll have to take a look at our photos again. We don't have any of the Benton House but I could have mixed up some of the others. Thanks for the tip.