In 1874 Benjamin Harrison, famed attorney from Indianapolis, built his family a 16-room Italianate mansion at 1230 N. Delaware Street in what would have been then outside of the city. Today, that home is known as the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site
You say you don’t know much about Benjamin Harrison?
Let me fill you in. In 1888 Harrison was elected the 23rd President of the US. Harrison was born in North Bend, Ohio and studied law at Miami University at Oxford, Ohio, but moved to Indianapolis in 1854 where he lived the rest of his life.
He was an elder at First Presbyterian Church, a position he held until his death. He was made a colonel in Indiana’s 70th regiment of the Union Army of volunteers in 1862 during the Civil War and later earned the rank of Brigadier General.
After the war, he joined a new law firm of Porter, Harrison and Fishback.
A couple of successful victories in big trials gave him national recognition and he began running for political office. In 1881 Harrison was elected to the US Senate. His grandfather William Henry Harrison had been elected 9th President of the US in 1840. Could Benjamin have had aspirations then of someday holding the same office?
After being elected to president, Harrison dedicated the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in downtown Indianapolis. Several Western states were admitted to the Union during his tenure and he set aside 13 million acres for national forest preserves. He signed acts providing pension for vets and their families. He also renovated the White House, installing electricity for the first time.
He served four years and was defeated in 1892 by Grover Cleveland. Sadly, that same year his first wife died of tuberculosis.
He married again in 1896 and a fourth child– a daughter– was born. Harrison died in 1901 from pneumonia.
It was nice to see his extravagant home which, even by today’s standards, is a mansion, has been preserved.
My husband and I parked in the small lot on the site’s property and purchased admission tickets at the Carriage House, a building reconstructed over the original one at the back of the home. Our one-hour guided tour started at the front of the home in the parlor.
It is a lovely home with some furnishings that belonged to the Harrison family, including a roll top desk, and other items that reflect the time period.
Our guide wound a musical instrument that was new to me—Reginaphone. It played beautiful tinkly tunes!
The library was fascinating. The massive wooden desk where President Harrison would have sat presides regally over the large room.
I loved the elegant dining room with gold-plated Presidential China. The chandelier reminded me of a birthday cake!
The second floor was mostly bedrooms, but it was the third floor that caught my interest.
Yes, that’s a casket you see. The room is filled with items for a display entitled ‘Death in the White House’ which runs through December 31, 2015. It features information about all of the US Presidents like Lincoln and family members who died while living there.
Insider tip: Aside from a few benches on the third floor, there are no places to rest during the tour. An elevator is available for those who need it.
1230 N. Delaware Street
Open M-Sat 10am-3:30pm
The home will be closed on the following dates:
|Thanksgiving Day||November 26|
|Christmas Holiday||December 24-25|
$10 admission; $9/ seniors.
Children 5-12: $5.00
Restrooms are available in a building adjacent to the Carriage House.