Lanier Mansion State Historic Site and the Madison community present the perfect opportunity to encounter, explore and experience history as it was in the 1840’s – when America was still young and the Ohio River was the gateway to the west.
Lanier State Historic Site
601 W. 1st St.
Madison, IN 47250
Lanier Mansion State Historic Site is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Indiana State Museum members receive FREE membership and a 10 percent discount in the gift shop.
Purchase tour tickets at the Lanier-Madison Visitor Center. Guided tours start at the top of the hour between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., except noon. The final tour of the day begins at 4 p.m.
Children under 3: FREE
*Seniors: Ages 60 and older, Child: Ages 3 through 17
Parking is available at the Lanier-Madison Visitor Center.
Receive $1 off of regular admission with a group of 15 or more.
Interested in scheduling a group/school tour? Special rates are available for groups of 10 or more and for school groups. Call 812.265.3526 to schedule your visit.
Academic topics covered include Greek Revival architecture, historic preservation, mid-19th century life, and financial literacy.
Art at the Lanier Mansion // April 25, 2016. Experience art and art history in and around the 1844 Lanier Home. Families are encouraged to bring a camera. Reservations are required; call 812.273.4531. Fee: $3 per student.
Please view our calendar for upcoming events.
Consider hosting your special event at Lanier Mansion State Historic Site. Please fill out our inquiry form to receive information.
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 1820’s, he served as clerk of the Indiana General Assembly, but turned to banking and finance in the 1830’s. In 1834, he became 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 1870’s. The current design is based on a lithograph of the grounds from 1876. The plants and flowers are ones 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 THE 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.