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General History and Description
19th Century, 1865-1900
Harrison's Administration, 1889-1893 >> Benjamin Harrison
|Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis
In 1854, Benjamin Harrison moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, to pursue a legal career.
Harrison's law practice prospered, and he moved to a series of residences, each larger and more spacious than the last. In 1867, he purchased a double lot at what is now 1230 North Delaware Street, then on the outskirts of the town. In 1872, he and wife Caroline began construction of their 16-room Italianate style house, a carriage house, brick drive, and landscaping. The house was completed in 1874, at a total cost of $24,818.67. It was occupied continuously by him until his death in 1901, except for when he was serving in the U.S. Congress and as President.
In 1888, Harrison accepted the Republican nomination for president at the house, planned his strategy there, and often spoke to crowds assembled on the tree-shaded lawn. So popular was he at the time, admirers once carried off the picket fence.
right: Harrison's home as it looked in 1888
Defeated for re-election in 1892, Harrison returned to Indianapolis and resumed his law career in March 1893. Widowed in 1892, only two weeks before the election, he married Mary Dimmick, his first wife's niece, in 1896, by which time he had renovated the house, installed electricity, added the present columned front porch, and redecorated the front parlor. He died in the master bedroom on March 13, 1901.
Mary Harrison and the couple's daughter Elizabeth stayed in the house until moving to New York in 1913. From then until 1937, the house was rented to various families and eventually became a rooming house. In March of 1937, the Arthur Jordan Foundation purchased the house and furniture and used it as a dormitory for the female students in the Jordan Conservatory of Music, located in a home on an adjoining lot to the south.
In 1951, the music school moved to Butler University, where it continues to be known as Jordan College. As per their purchase agreement, the Arthur Jordan Foundation Trustees opened the Harrison Home to the public. In 1964, the United States Department of Interior named the home a National Historic Landmark. In 1966, the Jordan Foundation created the President Benjamin Harrison Foundation to maintain and operate the home, which was officially renamed the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site in 2010. Today visitors can see 10 of the original 16 rooms, restored and furnished with Harrison items and period pieces. One of those rooms is Harrison's library, where he planned his 1888 campaign for the presidency.
The official website of the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site is http://www.bhpsite.org/.
This page was last updated on March 13, 2017.