HEROIC STORY, SUPERB ARCHITECTURE
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.
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.
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. This mulberry colored (many of the shards were this color) set, purchased by NSCDA in 2005, has a pattern similar to one found during the digs.
Behind the Scenes Tours
The Lanier Mansion State Historic Site offers “Behind the Scenes Tours” of the Lanier Mansion at 4 p.m. on the second Saturday of each month. Visitors taking this tour should be prepared to climb stairs and walk on uneven surfaces. Reservations are required.
Spirit of Christmas Past
Enjoy old-fashioned Christmas activities for children and their families. There will be crafts, refreshments, stories, a card making station, a gift shop and, of course, Santa Claus.
Behind the Scene Tours
The Lanier Mansion State Historic Site offers “Behind the Scenes Tours” of the Lanier Mansion at 4 p.m. on the second Saturday of each month. Visitors see areas of the mansion not included in the regularly scheduled tours, including the huge basement, the unfinished east wing, and the cupola. They also hear information about the site not explained on the standard tours. Visitors taking this tour should be prepared to climb stairs and walk on uneven surfaces. Reservations are required.
A Garden Affair
April 5, 2014
Get in the mood for spring! Learn expert gardening tips, browse our garden boutique and enjoy some delightful spring treats. Program includes lunch. Call 812.273.0556 for reservations.
Eggstravaganza on the Lanier Lawn
April 12, 2014
Children 3 to 8 can enjoy Easter fun with storytelling, crafts, face painting, historical games, old toys and a visit with the Easter Bunny. Age appropriate Easter Egg Hunts will take place on the grounds of Lanier Mansion beginning at 12:45 p.m.
Art at the Lanier Mansion
April 25, 2014
Explore art and art history in and around the Lanier Home. Families are encouraged to bring a camera.
Lanier Civil War Days
June 21 & 22, 2014
Hear thundering cannons by the Ohio River and experience mock battles, a Civil War encampment, historic trades, local history talks, period musical performances and re-enactors, and a children’s building station during the Lanier Civil War Days event.
June 25 & 26, 2014
This year’s theme is “recycling buildings.” Campers ages 8 to 12 can travel back in time for hands-on fun learning about area landmarks, architecture, historic preservation and history in Madison, Indiana. Hands on architectural fun, craft projects, walking tours and more! The second day of the camp will conclude with a swim at the historic Crystal Beach pool.
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. (the last tour starts at 4 p.m.). Please note that tours sometimes fill up. Please consider calling before your visit.
Purchase tour tickets at the Lanier-Madison Visitor Center west of the mansion at 601 West 1st Street.
|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.
DIRECTIONS AND PARKING
Where to park
Parking is available at the Lanier–Madison Visitor Center just west of the mansion at 601 West 1st Street.
Historic Sites Program Manager
Lanier Mansion State Historic Site
601 West 1st St.