WHERE NATURE'S BEAUTY MEETS ARTIST'S CANVAS
Experience the rolling hills, scenic vistas, majestic trees and landscape that inspired noted Hoosier painter T.C. Steele and his wife, Selma, to build their home and cultivate beauty and art in Brown County.
Theodore Clement Steele (1847-1926), noted Indiana artist and member of the Hoosier Group of American regional impressionist painters, was inspired by the picturesque scenes that he encountered in Brown County. Steele was at the forefront of the state's art movement and remains one of Indiana's most honored artists.
In 1907, Steele and his second wife, Selma Neubacher Steele, purchased property in Brown County and began construction of their home, which they named "The House of the Singing Winds." They built the Large Studio in 1916 to accommodate Steele's work. Selma created several acres of gardens around the home and landscaped the surrounding hillsides to enhance the beauty of their property.
As Steele's popularity grew, an increasing number of visitors came to Brown County to meet the artist and to see his work and estate. Steele’s appreciation of nature, combined with his intelligence and capacity for concentrated study, raised his works to an extraordinary level.
House of the Singing Winds
The home that the Steeles built in 1907 and expanded in 1908 featured high ceilings and screened porches, in contrast to the simple log homes of the area. Selma decorated the home with an eclectic mix of Arts and Crafts — the desk and chair in Steele’s office — and Rococo Revival — the settees and chairs in the living room— furnishings and objects.
The home’s vernacular architecture features a pyramidal roof with a central fireplace. The Steeles’ friend and artist Gustave Baumann engraved the words, “Every morning I take off my hat to the beauty of the world,” below the mantel.
Restoration work in Selma’s kitchen continues. When completed, visitors touring the home will be able to experience its circular flow.
The Large Studio
T.C. Steele’s first studio was in what is now the living room of the home. The next year, 1908, they added the west wing which served as his studio for seven years. The Steeles then built another building which was used as his studio until 1916.
Built in 1918, Steele designed this studio to display his work in an atmosphere consistent with the surrounding landscape. The barn-like structure and wall of north-facing windows provide a fitting and spacious backdrop for Steele’s paintings.
As Steele was primarily a plein air painter, he used this space primarily to exhibit his work, as well as for sales and entertaining.
DeWar Log Cabin
Brown County settler Peter Dewar built this cabin around 1875, five miles south of its present site. The cabin faced destruction in the early 1930s, but realizing that it represented part of Brown County’s heritage, Selma Steele bought the cabin, moved it and filled it with natural history displays.
During Selma’s lifetime, the cabin contained a collection of moths and butterflies. In 1934, she dedicated the “Trailside Museum” in memory of her brother Walter, an amateur naturalist. Today, it houses an interactive photo display of wildlife, a display box of bird nests and the like found around the property, and exhibits on pioneer life and log cabins.
Selma Steele Nature Preserve
Selma Neubacher Steele asked that her property remain ‘a tribute to natural beauty.’ In keeping with her wish, this 92-acre preserve was dedicated in 1990. The topography of the preserve varies enough to support different types of trees and plants. Deep ravines with seasonally flowing streams cut through soft bedrock. Rich undergrowth provides a wealth of wildflowers throughout the spring.
Wildlife that call the preserve home include deer, squirrels, chipmunks, raptors, woodpeckers and other birds. Wildflowers enthusiasts should be sure to look for whorled pagonia orchids and shining clubmoss.
Visitors may access this natural area via two of the site’s hiking trails.
T.C. Steele is open year-round!
Tuesday – Saturday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sunday, 1 – 5 p.m.
Closed on Mondays.
Guided tours available for "The House of the Singing Winds" and the Large Studio, where changing exhibits display paintings done throughout Steele's life.
|Children under 3||FREE|
Indiana State Museum members and members of other State Historic Sites Friends Groups get FREE admission and a 10 percent discount in the gift shop!
GROUP RATES AVAILABLE
|Children under 3||FREE|
*Child: ages 3 through 12
*Senior: age 60 and older
Gardens, grounds and hiking trails may be enjoyed free of charge.
DIRECTIONS AND PARKING
Where to park
Free parking is available on the site grounds, including spaces for buses and RVs.
Murder Mystery at T.C. Steele
February 14 & 21
Bring your inner detective out to play for our annual game of murder and mayhem. Join the event as a guest and help solve the murder or volunteer to play one of the lively roles with just a few easy lines. Dinner will be catered with wine and beer included.
29th Annual Wildflower Foray
April 24 - 26
Between 20 and 25 hikes and programs take place over a three-day period. Primary focus is on the natural history and environmental concerns relating to Brown County, especially as they relate to wildflower and bird populations. Included are wildflower and bird walks, wetlands hikes, a boat trip on Lake Monroe, nature photography, and other programs related to the theme of the event. Hikes and programs are held on T.C. Steele grounds on established trails, and on other nearby natural areas including other DNR properties, Hoosier National Forest, Indiana University, Sycamore Land Trust and Nature Conservancy lands.
Artist in Residence Program
May - September
The Artist in Residence (AIR) program will promote the awareness of the fine arts in Indiana and illustrate how the natural elements of the site inspire artistic creativity. This artist will be staying on the property for a determined amount of time and will be creating original art and interacting with visitors. The artist will be staying in the Guest Cottage during their stay and using the space as a studio to create/display their work. Please check back to learn more about upcoming artists and/or workshops.
Festival of Flowers Paintout
2 parking for the general public. Judged plein air (outdoor) art contest, with an afternoon outdoor concert. Pre-registered artists create artwork –and visitors have the opportunity to observe the process of creation—outdoors. All work submitted for judging must be created the day of the contest. Food available for purchase along with an outdoor concert at 1pm.
EDUCATION EVENTS & STANDARDS
AT T.C. STEELE S.H.S.
Experience how the rolling hills, scenic vistas, majestic trees and landscape inspired noted Hoosier painter T.C. Steele and his wife, Selma, to build their home and cultivate beauty and art in Brown County. The 211-acre site includes five hiking trails, the Dewar Log Cabin and the 92-acre Selma Steele Nature Preserve.
Academic topics covered:
- Early 20th Century Culture
- Visual Arts
- Natural History
Grades PreK – 12
House of the Singing Winds & T.C. Steele's Studio Tour
In 1907, T.C. Steele and his wife Selma were inspired by the picturesque scenes he encountered in Brown County and built their home and the Large Studio to accommodate Steele’s art. Selma Steele created several acres of gardens around the home that our visitors can enjoy today. This tour can also include the grounds, cemetery and Dewar Log Cabin. An art project can finish the day.
Grades 4 – 12
Use compasses and clues to locate boxes around the property to learn about ecology. Topics include decomposition, ecological succession, erosion, animal habitats, and species identification.
Grades K – 5
Steeles: Technology Pioneers in Brown County
Discover how the same binary code in today’s computers was used during the Steele’s time. Students discover the math and science behind this theory while playing games, decoding messages and creating their own paisley design.
Grades PreK – 12
Design Your Visit
Educators may request a specialty program or activity for an additional fee. Topics include art, history, natural history and multidisciplinary learning.