Benjamin Harrison was the first (and only) U.S. President from Indiana. Before he ventured to the White House in 1889, he and his wife built an Italianate Victorian home in 1875 on Indianapolis’ Northside. Now known as the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, you can visit the homestead for a tour, an old-fashioned game of croquet or ice cream social, and more.
In addition to hosting buses of school children on a daily basis, the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site offers daily tours of the 10,000 square-foot-home, complete with 16 rooms, three stories and a basement (visitors can see 10 of those rooms, including the third floor ballroom). The current exhibit, “Windows to the Past: Harrison’s Indianapolis” runs through Nov. 3. It follows the Harrison family to the home at 1230 North Delaware Street, and traces the progress of Indianapolis from a small state capital to a large metropolitan city.
In July, the site also offers a few unique opportunities for children and adults: a Naturalization Ceremony for people who have qualified for U.S. citizenship, and the July 4th Ice Cream Social. Learn more, below.
About the House
When President Harrison built the home, his construction team needed 380,550 bricks and two-feet-thick Indiana limestone for the basement. The finest French plate windows were installed along with three conveniences not enjoyed by most Victorians: running water (in the kitchen, washroom and second-floor bathroom), a coal-fed furnace, 23 working gaslight fixtures and 12-foot-high-ceilings.
The home figured prominently in Harrison’s campaign for presidency (he was the 23rd U.S. President and served from 1889-1893). It also provides insight into his family’s life and history — which is why it’s such an educational adventure. The home is beautifully furnished with many of President and Caroline Harrison’s paintings, furniture, and other artifacts including political memorabilia. The three-level historic landmark recently underwent $400,000 in restoration work thanks to a Save America’s Treasures grant. The grounds also include several gardens, and a reconstructed carriage house.
The museum offers daily tours from January 24 through December 30; Monday – Saturday, from 10 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Tours are on the hour and half-hour. In June and July, the museum offers tours on Sundays from 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
- Children ages 4 and under: FREE
- Students ages 5 to 17: $3.00
- Adults ages 18 to 64: $8.00
- Seniors ages 65 and older: $6.00
- AAA Discounts are available: $7.00 Adults, $6.00 Seniors, Students $3.00
About President Harrison
Benjamin Harrison came from a family with many years of political service. His great-grandfather, Benjamin Harrison V, signed the Declaration of Independence and served as governor of Virginia. William Henry Harrison, his grandfather, was the first governor of the Indiana Territory, congressman, senator, and the ninth President of the United States. His father, John Scott Harrison, was a representative from the state of Ohio.
Benjamin Harrison was inaugurated as the 23rd U.S. President 100 years after George Washington and served in a transitional period in U.S. history. He faced colonial America issues, but he also faced issues that plague presidents today. In keeping with the attitude of colonial American expansion, President Harrison brought six states into the union—more than any other president in one term. He also succeeded in matters beyond the U.S. shores by establishing relations with Central America, and increasing the nation’s position in global trading.
You can learn more about Harrison’s rise to the presidency, his service in the Civil War and his law practice, on the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site website.
Date: Friday, July 1
Time: 10 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Description: The Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site hosts the summer Naturalization ceremony for people who have qualified for United States citizenship. Families and friends of these celebrants will be present to witness this exciting day. Judge Sarah Evans Barker will preside over the court ceremony that will take place in a tent on the south lawn with seating available for 300 people.
July 4th Ice Cream Social
Date: Monday, July 4
Time: 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Cost: $10 member adults; $4.00 member students – $12.00 adults; $5.00 students (4-11); children under 4 are free
Description: Come One, Come All to the Big Top Circus at the 36th annual Ice Cream Social! The Victorian Circus has come to town and raised their tent on the President’s lawn. To celebrate, the Harrisons are throwing an Ice Cream Social. Attend a one-day circus camp, get a balloon animal from stilt-walking Uncle Sam, and mix and mingle with members of Harrison’s family, staff and friends.
Admission includes a walk-thru tour and one dip of cold delicious Blue Bell Ice Cream. Read more.
For other events throughout the year, including Victorian Theatre by Candlelight, Family Christmas at the President’s Home and more, visit: www.pbhh.org/visit/Events.php