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.
Artist in Residence Program
May through September
The Artist in Residence (AIR) program will promote the awareness of of the fine arts in Indiana and illustrate how the natural elements of the site inspire artistic creativity. These artists will be staying on the property for a determined amount of time (between a week to a month) and will create orginal art and interact with visitors. The artist will stay in the Guest Cottage and use the space as a studio to create/display their work. There will be an AIR for each of the annual Paint Outs, and the artist will instruct workshops workshops before the event and perform a public demonstration during the judging at the event. The other two AIR’s will conduct workshops either on the site or as outreach to school-aged children.
Lotus in the Park
This event is an educational offshoot of Bloomington’s Lotus World Art & Music Festival and is organized by the Lotus Festival committee. Many area groups, including T.C. Steele SHS, take part by offering two days of hands-on multi-cultural art and music activities. T.C. Steele staff and volunteers facilitate the painting of murals based on the work of T.C. Steele. The murals are then displayed at Lotus in the Park in September.
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.
T.C. Steele Classroom
Perfect for classes and small gatherings under 20 people.
T.C. Steele SHS Grounds
The grounds that inspired T.C. Steele plein air paintings. Great for larger groups.
This big, open space has plenty of room and is filled with T.C. Steele paintings and artifacts.
For more information email Megan Richards or call 812.988.2785