Historic Sites and Buildings
Benjamin Harrison, 23d President of the United States, lived in this house from the 1870's until his death in 1901. In 1854 he had moved from his home State, Ohio, to Indianapolis, the burgeoning capital of Indiana, to pursue a legal career. Through the years, as his law practice prospered, he lived in various residences, each one larger and more spacious than its predecessor. Finally, in 1867, he purchased a double lot on North Delaware Street, then on the outskirts of the town, as the site for a home. Constructed in the 1870's, the house was a red brick structure two stories high and contained 16 rooms. It was situated in a spacious yard full of elms, oaks, and a variety of plants and shrubbery.
In 1888 Harrison initiated a "front porch" Presidential campaign from his home, and often spoke to crowds of people assembled in the street. On one occasion, when the populace learned of his nomination, overenthusiastic admirers demolished and carried off the picket fence surrounding the yard. Defeated in his second bid for the presidency in 1892, Harrison returned to Indianapolis and resumed his law career. About the time of his second marriage, in 1896, he renovated the house, installed electricity, and added the present Ionic-columned porch. His death occurred in 1901 in the master bedroom on the second floor of the home. He was buried in the city's Crown Hill Cemetery.
In 1937 Harrison's widow sold the house and most of its furnishings to the Arthur Jordan Foundation, which has restored 10 of the 16 rooms and furnished them with Harrison items or appropriate period pieces. One of the most beautiful rooms, the front parlor, appears as it did when redecorated in 1896 for Harrison's new bride. Among its furnishings are cut-crystal chandeliers, an Aubusson rug, and gold-lacquered mirrors. Harrison's library, the room where he planned his 1888 campaign for the Presidency, features his massive hand-carved bookcase and numerous other mementos. His law office furniture occupies a second-floor room. The master bedroom contains a huge hand-carved bed, an exercise machine, and a cradle originally owned by William Henry Harrison, Benjamin's grandfather and ninth U.S. President.
Presently, the Arthur Jordan Foundation leases the Harrison house to the Benjamin Harrison Foundation, incorporated in 1966, which operates it as a historic house museum.
Last Updated: 22-Jan-2004