Lanier Mansion State Historic Site and the Madison community present the perfect opportunity to encounter, explore and experience history as it was in the 1840s — when America was still young and the Ohio River was the gateway to the west.




The Mansion


Lanier Mansion is one of the best examples of Greek Revival architecture in the country and is considered to be the "Crown Jewel" of Madison’s Historic District. Designed by architect Francis Costigan, the mansion exhibits many original Greek Revival features including its square plan, the full façade porch on the south elevation, the Corinthian columns on the south portico, the Doric pilasters that appear on several locations on the exterior, the massive exterior entablature and dentilated cornice, the ornamental anthemia, the ornamental pediments over the windows and doors, and the Ionic columns that separate the double parlors on the first floor.

Careful interior restoration and redecoration have recaptured the Mansion’s 19th century splendor. During the 1990s, the Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Museums and Historic Sites, with major funding provided by the Lanier Mansion Foundation, restored the building and grounds to their former grandeur. After many years of painstaking research, the home was painted in the original colors both inside and out. On the interior, horsehair brushes were used to paint the walls and decorative plaster moldings which were then covered with a high gloss varnish as they were in 1844. The wallpapers and carpets are all reproductions of those available for purchase in the 1840s. Curators and other staff continue to research furnishes from the period and changes to reflect their research may be made to the home in the future.

Lanier Mansion became a National Historic Landmark in 1994.


James Franklin Doughty Lanier


James Franklin Doughty Lanier was one of Madison’s pioneers. His activities in banking and railroad development made him one of the most important figures in Indiana’s history.

Lanier moved to Madison in 1817 and practiced law. In the 1820s, he served as clerk of the Indiana General Assembly, but turned to banking and finance in the 1830s. In 1834, he became the president of the Madison Branch of the State Bank of Indiana. He was a major investor in Indiana’s first railroad, the Madison and Indianapolis, completed in 1847. Lanier’s business success allowed him to hire Madison architect Francis Costigan to design and build the grandest residence in Madison. The mansion was completed and occupied in 1844. Following the death of his first wife, Elizabeth, in 1846, Lanier married Margaret Mary McClure Lanier in 1848.

In 1849, Lanier formed an investment bank, Winslow & Lanier, in New York City and moved there in 1851. However, he maintained close ties to Indiana. During the Civil War, he made unsecured loans totaling over $1 million — $26 million today — enabling Indiana Governor Oliver P. Morton to outfit troops and keep up interest payments on the state’s debt. His actions kept Indiana an active participant on the Northern side during America’s greatest conflict. By 1870, these loans were repaid with interest. Lanier died in 1881.


The formal gardens south of the mansion are a recreation of the garden installed by J.F.D. Lanier’s son Alexander in the 1870s. Their design is based on a lithograph of the grounds from 1876. The plants and flowers here are those that were popular in the second half of the 19th century: heirloom roses, poppies, bachelor’s buttons, alliums, phlox and lilies. Plants in the mansion’s north lawn are a combination of heirloom and more modern varieties including weeping cherry trees, azaleas, daffodils and lilies of the valley.

The gardens are open year-round and are designed to have something blooming each season.



Archaeology at
Lanier Mansion


Archaeologists and historians have been active at Lanier Mansion since 1990, much of the research funded by The National Society of Colonial Dames of America in the State of Indiana and other grants. Researchers have discovered the locations of the former dog kennels, poultry house, green houses, cisterns, the original Lanier home (which faced Elm Street) and the carriage house. A reconstruction of the carriage house shell, built in 2003, stands on the original foundations archaeologists found during investigation.

Archaeologists also uncovered numerous glass and ceramic items including shards of glass bottles, dishes, bowls and serving pieces. The ceramics were made of yellow ware, white ware and porcelain, as well as transfer ware in a variety of colors. Researchers used the transfer ware shards as a guide in selecting the set of antique transfer ware that now adorns the Lanier Mansion dining room. 



Eggstravaganza on the Lanier Lawn




March 19
Ongoing from noon - 1:30 p.m.   
$3 per child; (adults free)

Children 3 to 8 can enjoy Easter fun with storytelling, face painting, lawn games, a fun craft and a visit with the Easter Bunny.


Easter Egg Hunts will begin for younger children ages 3-5 at 12:30 p.m. followed by a hunt for 6-8 year olds at 12:45 p.m. on the grounds of Lanier Mansion. Other activities will take place before and after the hunt.


For more info call 812.273.0556 or contact Anne Fairchild at afairchild@indianamuseum.org.




A Garden Affair




 April 9
Noon - 2 p.m.
$30 per person
Reservations Required

Get in the mood for spring with the social event of the season! Enjoy our garden-themed program, silent auction and delightful luncheon of spring treats with your friends.


Call 812.273.0556 for reservations.






















The Lanier Mansion is open daily!
9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

The Lanier-Madison Visitors Center
Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Saturday – Sunday, 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Guided tours start at the top of the hour at regular intervals between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., except noon (the last tour starts at 4 p.m.). The site is closed on some major Holidays. 



Purchase tour tickets at the Lanier-Madison Visitor Center west of the mansion at 601 West 1st Street.

Adults $9
Seniors* $8
Children* $4
Children under 3 FREE


Indiana State Museum members get FREE admission and a 10 percent discount in the gift shop!

*Child: ages 3 through 12
*Senior: age 60 and older

Group/School Tours: Special rates are available for groups of 10 or more and for school groups. Call 812.265.3526 to schedule your group.


Get directions to Lanier Mansion State Historic Site.

Where to park
Parking is available at the Lanier–Madison Visitor Center just west of the mansion at 601 West 1st Street.





Contact us 



Gerry Reilly
Site Manager

Anne Fairchild
Historic Sites Program Manager

Phyllis Stephens
Site Administrator

Lanier Mansion State Historic Site

601 West 1st St.
Madison, IN 47250

Phone: 812.265.3526
Fax: 812.265.3501






A thousand years ago, Evansville was home to a thriving community of Mississippian Indians on the banks of the Ohio River. Each year, archaeologists come closer to uncovering the mysteries of these past inhabitants by combing over artifacts they left behind. Your students will make very personal connections with this prehistoric Native American culture and the natural landscape.

Academic topics covered:

  • Greek Revival Architecture
  • Historic Preservation
  • Mid-19th Century Life
  • Financial Literacy


Grades K - 3

Clues in the Old Mansion

Learn how to find clues about people of the past by what they have left behind. See what it was like to be a child in the 1840s with stories, games
and manners.

Grades K – 12

Lanier Grounds Tour

April through October.

Learn about historical plants and gardens from the 1800s.

Grades K – 12

Lanier Mansion School Group Tour

Topics include how Lanier helped to build Indiana’s economy and finance the Civil War; everyday life in a wealthy family in a bustling 1840s river town, and Greek Revival architecture.

Grades 5 – 8

Lanier Mansion's Right Angle Architecture Tour

An interdisciplinary math and historic preservation experience that allows students to explore Greek Revival architecture and historic preservation.



Grades 2 - 8 

Art at the Lanier Mansion

April 25
Fee: $3 per student
One free adult per paid child.



Reservations required.

Experience art and art history in and around the 1844 Lanier Home. Families are encouraged to bring a camera. Call 812.273.4531 for reservations.



Grades PreK – 6

Charlie's Trunk: A 19th Century Childhood

Fee: $2 per student
$50 minimum outreach fee.

Learn what it was like to be a child in the 1840s with stories, games, chores, manners and schoolwork from that time.

Grades 5 - 8

Lanier Mansion's Right Angle: Everyday Math
and Greek Revival Architecture

Fee: Varies depending on activity. $50 minimum outreach fee.

An interdisciplinary math and historic preservation experience that allows students to explore Greek Revival architecture and historic preservation.

Grades 3 – 12

Lanier's Money: Dollars and Sense in the 1840's

Fee: $2 per student
$50 minimum outreach fee.

Learn about America’s economy during Lanier’s
time and how to make sound financial decisions

Grades K – 5

1840's Kitchen Garden Essentials Student Workshop

Fee: $4 per student

Available February through June.

Learn how to create your own Victorian kitchen garden. Each family or classroom will plant their own heirloom variety seeds to begin a garden of their own.