William Culbertson moved to Indiana seeking a new life and eventually became one of the richest men in the state and a renowned philanthropist. His mansion stands as an example of the tastes, ideals and lifestyles of people during the late 1800's.
Culbertson Mansion State Historic Site
914 E. Main St.
New Albany, IN 47150
Culbertson Mansion is open:
Culbertson Mansion is closed on New Year's Day (Jan. 1 and 2), Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Jan. 16), Good Friday (April 14), Memorial Day (May 29), Independence Day (July 4), Labor Day (Sept. 4), Columbus Day (Oct. 9), Veterans Day (Nov. 10 and 11), Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 23), Lincoln's Birthday (Observed on Nov. 24), Christmas Day (Dec. 25) and Washington's Birthday (Observed on Dec. 26).
Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites members receive FREE admission and a 10 percent discount in the gift shop.
Guided tours begin at the mansion's front door; please ring the bell and wait for a guide to assist you. Tours begin on the top of each hour. The first tour begins at 9 a.m. and the last tour begins at 4 p.m. Admission fees will be collected in the Gift Shop at the conclusion of the tour.
Children under 3: FREE
*Seniors: Ages 60 and older, Child: Ages 3 through 17
Parking is available on Main Street and 10th Street. Handicapped parking is available in the circular driveway behind the mansion; please call if you need to use the handicapped lift or if you need other assistance.
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 812.944.9600 to schedule your visit.
Academic topics covered include decorative arts, late 19th century life, servants and class structure, historic preservation and philanthropy.
Culbertson School Group Tour // Tour features William Culbertson's rise from a dry goods clerk to the leading entrepreneur in New Albany; philanthropy, community, class structure and family life of the late 1800's; French Second Empire architecture and decorative arts of the period. Grades K-12.
Culbertson Educational Outreach // You may request speakers in historical dress for your school visit. Grades K-12. Fee: $2 per student ($50 minimum fee).
Free Insights Curriculum Kits // Available only for local pickup directly from the Culbertson Mansion. Options include Cornelia’s Victorian Insight Curriculum Kit, Architecture Insight Curriculum Kit, Culbertson Insight Curriculum Kit (1850-1880). For $1 per student, you may add a costumed character to explore the Curriculum Kits as an outreach program at your school.
Please view our calendar for upcoming events.
Consider hosting your special event at the Culbertson Mansion State Historic Site. Please fill out our inquiry form to receive information.
With its hand-painted ceilings, carved staircase, marble fireplaces and elaborate plasterwork, the Culbertson Mansion reflects the affluence of a man once considered to be the wealthiest in Indiana. In 1867, William S. Culbertson spent about $120,000 to build his grand home in New Albany.
The three-story, Second-Empire mansion encompasses more than 20,000 square feet and contains 25 rooms. The facade, east elevation and west elevation all feature semi-circular bays, allowing plenty of light into the rooms. Built by brothers William and James Banes, it was one of the most striking homes on Main Street.
No expense was spared in decorating the interior of the home. The family hired artists to paint the designs on the walls, ceilings and cornices of the first and second floors. Artists used the technique of trompe l’oiel in several rooms to mimic paneling, molding or other textured surfaces. Special tools were used to create the look of wood graining. Many of the floors were hand-painted with this “faux bois” graining. Other rooms were covered with wall-to-wall carpets.
In 1964, Historic New Albany purchased the home, and it was accepted as a State Historic Site in 1976. The Culbertson Mansion represents the lifestyles of the Victorian fortune-makers as well as the lifestyles of the servant staff.
WILLIAM S. CULBERTSON
At age 21, William S. Culbertson left his hometown of New Market, PA, to seek his fortune in Indiana. Settling in New Albany, he found employment as a clerk in a dry goods store. Culbertson possessed exceptional business sense and energy. He started his own utility company in 1854, eventually becoming a prosperous, independent businessman. In 1868, Culbertson retired from the dry goods business to invest his money in new ventures, including the Kentucky-Indiana Railroad Bridge Company.
Culbertson invested much of his wealth in New Albany. He involved himself in civic affairs, funded and supervised the construction of the Culbertson Widows Home, served as a Trustee of the First Presbyterian Church, and founded the Cornelia Memorial Orphans Home, named for the second of his three wives. Culbertson was widowed twice and married for the third time at age 70.
He died in 1892, at the age of 78, achieving a net worth of $3.5 million dollars — about $61 million in today’s economy. William, his first two wives, and several of his children are buried in New Albany’s Fairview Cemetery.
RESTORATION OF THE MANSION
The Culbertson family sold the house and its furnishings in 1899. Over the following decades, the passage of time and changes in ownership left their mark on the mansion. When the State of Indiana took ownership of the house in 1976, much of it would have been unrecognizable to the family. The state started exterior renovations in 1980, and shortly afterward, the staff and the Friends of Culbertson Mansion began work to restore the original interior.
Restoration requires careful analysis of the remaining materials so that the artists and craftspeople involved can recreate the originals as accurately as possible. Textiles such as carpeting and window coverings are chosen for their appropriateness to the time period. In some cases, historic photographs are invaluable, as in the rebuilding of the first floor veranda and the recreation of the etched-glass panel in the front door.
The Friends continue to raise funds for restoration and other projects around the mansion through annual special events. In addition, the Friends have received many generous grants from local foundations with an interest in preservation. Today, visitors to the mansion can see the results of these restoration efforts, as well as the works-in-progress.