Back to News

The Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites provides visitors with thousands of ways to experience the story of Indiana. At all 12 locations, visitors can discover the stories of real Hoosiers who changed the course of our state, and step inside some of the real buildings where history was made.

Media Contacts

Renee Bruck, Manager of Communication, 317.260.3506

Subscribe to media updates


Holcomb presents “Coffin Sisters” with Bicentennial Beacon Award


INDIANAPOLIS (August 19, 2016) – In honor of the State of Indiana’s bicentennial, Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb and the Indiana Office of Tourism Development (IOTD) presented sisters Saundra Jackson and Janice McGuire of Fountain City with the Bicentennial Beacon Award for their unwavering service and volunteerism during a ceremony Friday afternoon at the Indiana State Fair.

For nearly 40 years, Jackson and McGuire have dedicated themselves to the Levi Coffin House. The site, which was named a National Historic Landmark in 1965, was the home of prominent anti-slavery activists Levi and Catharine Coffin. Before slavery was abolished, the home sheltered more than two thousand freedom seekers and became known as the Grand Central Station of the Underground Railroad.

Jackson and McGuire have tirelessly led a small group of volunteers, recruiting docents, and scheduling tours all for the sole purpose of teaching visitors about the lives and legacy of Levi and Catharine Coffin. All this work was done on a volunteer basis. Both ladies worked other jobs and raised families, while keeping the Levi Coffin House operating.

The sisters’ passion for the site and the courage and conviction it stands for comes through every time one of them talks about the site, Levi, or Catharine. This passion is evident through their service. Jackson serves as the President of the Levi Coffin House Association and McGuire serves as the Secretary.

It has been during their tenure on the board that the association has made way for a multi-million dollar interpretive center. The Levi Coffin house and new interpretive center have been a labor of love for Jackson and McGuire. And in December, the site will become an expanded heritage tourism destination, helping to tell the story of freedom seekers who sought refuge, just as the “Coffin Sisters” have been doing for decades.

”Levi and Catherine Coffin are Hoosiers who were great beacons of hope in their day,” said Mark Newman, executive director of IOTD.  “Their legacy lives on through the work of Sandra and Janice and we are proud to honor these ladies for their work in preserving the important Coffin legacy.”

The Bicentennial Beacon is awarded to a person or people who embodies the spirit of the bicentennial and serves as that special bridge that connects Indiana’s past to its future in the most meaningful of ways.

Holcomb also awarded the Will Koch Indiana Tourism Leadership Award to Bill and Kathleen Oliver, owners of Oliver Winery near Bloomington.

The award is presented annually and is the highest tourism honor given by the State of Indiana. The award is named for the late Will Koch, long-time owner and president of Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari. IOTD and the Koch family established the honor to pay tribute to Will Koch’s many meaningful contributions to tourism, business and society.

A video of this year's Will Koch Indiana Tourism Leadership Award can be found on the VisitIndiana YouTube channel

18 representatives of Indiana’s travel, tourism and hospitality industry earned the 2016 Lieutenant Governor’s Hoosier Hospitality Award for their uncompromising service in tourism-related jobs at hotels, restaurants, attractions and other destinations.

Nominations for Hoosier Hospitality Awards are submitted by community members and destination patrons. Nominations are reviewed and winners are selected by IOTD. Outstanding service is a major factor in determining whether a person returns to an individual business or destination.

The 2016 Lieutenant Governor’s Hoosier Hospitality Award recipients are:




Susan Baxter

Comfort Inn


Diana Bennett

Fiber artist and quilt expert


Carlie Cripe

Shipshewana Trading Place


Lisa Critney

Holiday Inn Express & Suites


Emily Cron

Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari


Janet Fields

Holiday Inn Express & Suites


Dan & Cyndee Gilmore

Cornerstone Retreat & Campground


Roger Hardig

Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site


Jennifer Jenkins



Kenyanna Johnson

Horseshoe Hammond Casino


Sandra Johnson

Visit Indy


Alice McDougalle

Holiday Inn Express & Suites


Yesenia Martinez

Hilton Garden Inn


Karleen Richter

Down the Road Tours


Loren Schmierer

Stonycreek Farm


Janeen Sprague

Sprague Hotel Developers


Rafi Wilkinson

Indiana Dunes Visitor Center


Curt Witcher

The Genealogy Center, Allen Co Public Library





Indiana Office of Tourism Development  l  One North Capitol Avenue, Suite 600  l  Indianapolis, IN 46204

OFFICE: (317) 232-8897 l  MOBILE: (317) 741-1320  l

Lt. Governor Eric J. Holcomb oversees the Indiana Office of Tourism Development. Mark Newman serves as the agency's executive director. IOTD is dedicated to enhancing the economic vitality of Indiana through leadership and resource support to the Indiana travel industry. The tourism and hospitality industry is the sixth largest industry in the state (excluding government), is directly responsible for 144,200 jobs, generates over $2.25 billion in tax receipts and contributes $10.7 billion in revenue to Indiana businesses.        

Posted by Paige Southerland at 6:00 AM