In his lifetime, T.C. Steele painted nine Governor portraits—more than any other artist. Join us for a behind-the-scenes look at the T.C. Steele paintings we have in our permanent Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites collection.Go Behind the Scenes
T.C. Steele and his Indiana Home
Theodore Clement “T.C.” Steele (1847-1926), noted Indiana artist and member of the Hoosier Group of Impressionist Painters, was inspired by the picturesque scenes that he encountered in Brown County. T.C. was at the forefront of the state’s art movement and remains one of Indiana’s most honored artists.
In 1907, T.C. 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 T.C.’s work. Selma created several acres of gardens around the home and landscaped the surrounding hillsides to enhance the beauty of their property.
As T.C.’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.
A look around the grounds
Hoosier painter T.C. Steele and his wife Selma built their home in 1907 amongst rolling hills, scenic vistas and majestic trees in Brown County, Indiana. Now known as T.C. Steele State Historic Site, you can visit the house and grounds that inspired the noted Indiana artist’s beautiful impressionist paintings.
Our new Visitor Center
Begin your journey in the brand-new 4,600-square-foot Singing Winds Visitor Center, where you’ll begin a tour of the site with an orientation video about the history of the location and find out why – like you – so many people have been drawn to the Steeles’ hilltop home for decades. Here, you’ll also find classroom space, restrooms, the gift shop and other amenities.
The 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 furnishings, arts and crafts. 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. Today, you can experience the home much like T.C. and Selma’s visitors did when the couple lived there.
His Mobile Studio
Prior to living on their Brown County property, Steele used a horse-drawn wagon as a studio to travel around the state to paint. T.C. brought this wagon with him to his Brown County home, but it eventually was destroyed in a barn fire in 1913. A modern version of this wagon and outdoor studio space has been recreated using verbal and newspaper descriptions. Visitors can tour this handicap-accessible area, create sketches of the surroundings, work “en plein air” (or outdoors) as T.C. did, and play games while discovering more about his art and life.
The Little Studio
When not traveling, T.C. used what is now the living room of his home as studio space. In 1908, the Steeles added the west wing, which served as his studio for seven years. They then built what they called the “Little Studio,” which he used until 1916. The original structure is now used as a working studio for artists-in-residence. The artists live in “La Casita,” a small cottage next to the Little Studio the Steeles created by joining two small outbuildings for a secondary guest cottage.
The Large Studio
T.C. built the “Large Studio” in 1916 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 T.C.’s paintings. He used this studio primarily to exhibit his work, as well as for sales and entertaining. Today, it is restored and updated to display a rotation of Steele’s original work. Through interactive activities, visitors learn about how plein air painters like Steele create their works.
The Selma N. Steele Nature Preserve
In keeping with Selma’s wish, this 92-acre “tribute to natural beauty” was dedicated in 1990. The topography supports a variety of trees and plants with deep ravines and seasonally flowing streams that cut through soft bedrock, as well as rich undergrowth that provides a wealth of wildflowers throughout the spring. Wildlife that call the preserve home include deer, squirrels, chipmunks, raptors, woodpeckers and other birds. Wildflower enthusiasts should be sure to look for Yellow Ladies’ Slippers and Showy Orchis. Visitors may access this natural area via two of the site’s hiking trails.
A Life in Bloom
Selma Steele’s gardens were the subject of several of Steele’s paintings, though there is no official documentation of the formal gardens. However, using a few existing clues, including oral history, T.C.’s paintings, Selma’s scrapbook and knowledge of plants that would have existed during Selma’s life, the gardens were restored and rededicated in 2017. Using this guide, you can locate the flower varieties on the grounds.Download the Plant Finder
Get inspired to become a member today!
Our members love exploring the rolling hills of Brown County and finding inspiration in the paintings inside the home and studios. Nature, meet wonder. What will you see today?Explore our Membership Plans
Plan Your Trip
Wednesday – Sunday
10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Closed Mondays*, Tuesdays, Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Open *Martin Luther King Jr. Day (FREE), *President’s Day (FREE), *Memorial Day, *Labor Day.
Open for preregistered programs only on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
Call site for local Spring and Fall Break hours.Purchase Tickets
For groups of 15 or more, adult tickets are $9, senior tickets are $7 and youth tickets are $4.
Special discounts are available for educators and education groups, military, Access Pass holders and more. View all discounts >>
Due to COVID-19 and social distancing requirements, we are offering special timed, indoor tours for a maximum of 10 people daily, Wednesday through Sunday. Cost for these tours is included with site admission, but pre-registration is recommended by calling the site. The schedule is as follows:
Guided tour of historic buildings: 10:15 to 11 a.m.
Self-guided tour of formal garden: All day
Guided tour of historic buildings: 1:15 to 2 p.m.
Outdoor guided tour of painting locations: 3:15 to 4 p.m.
Self-guided use of hiking trails: All day
Self-guided tours of the formal gardens or site grounds: All day
Field trip admission is free for pre-scheduled, accredited schools and homeschool groups of 10 or more Indiana K-12 students. Call 812.988.2785 to schedule your visit.
Academic topics covered include visual arts, early 20th-century culture, natural history, science and language arts.
Learn more about field trip and school program offerings in the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites PreK-12 Education Program Guide. View guide >>
T.C. Steele K-12 programming is supported by:
If you are a photographer looking to book a shoot at T.C. Steele State Historic Site, please review our commercial photography policy and application process. Learn more >>
LOOKING TO BOOK A FIELD TRIP?
Help bring history, science, art and education to life for your students with a one-of-a-kind field trip experience. All state historic sites support Indiana Academic Standards, and feature a variety of academic topics. Call 812.988.2785 to schedule your visit to T.C. Steele.Learn More in Our Educator Program Guide
Once you turn left on T.C. Steele Road in Nashville, you’ll see T.C. Steele State Historic Site on your right, about 1.5 miles up the road. Free parking is available on the site grounds, including spaces for buses and RVs.