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LANIER MANSION STATE HISTORIC SITE

On the banks of the Ohio River stands a stately mansion built for James Franklin Doughty Lanier—a man who, at one time, saved Indiana from financial ruin.

Born in Washington, North Carolina in 1800, Lanier came to Madison at age 17 and married Elizabeth Gardner two years later. After legal training at Transylvania University , Kentucky, Lanier was appointed assistant clerk for the Indiana House of Representatives in 1824. A year later he helped move the capital to Indianapolis, where he was promoted to clerk of the House.

Lanier led the movement to form the Second State Bank of Indiana in 1834. He became the first president of the Madison branch and a member of the Board of Control of the State Banking System. This made him one of the state’s leading financiers. He was also a key figure in the state’s early railroad development. After making his personal fortune, he began building a breathtaking Greek Revival home on the banks of the Ohio River .

The new home was completed in 1844, but Lanier lived there only a few years. He soon moved to New York where he founded another financial firm on Wall Street with Richard H. Winslow. With national expansion booming, Lanier’s talents as a financier brought him even greater fortune.

 

When the Civil War began, Indiana was called upon to supply six regiments for the Union effort. When Indiana governor Oliver p . Morton appealed to Lanier for help, Lanier loaned almost a half- million dollars to supply Indiana soldiers. Lanier was never guaranteed repayment. Two years later, another war emergency arose and again, Lanier proved a savior.

Designated a National Historic Landmark, the 1840's Greek Revival mansion was designed by architect Francis Costigan for railroad baron and financier J.F.D. Lanier. The interior has been restored to its 1840's splendor. The entire city block once comprised the Lanier estate is owned and operated by the Indiana State Museums & Historic Sites Corporation.

Lanier died in August 1881, in New York City. Alexander C. Lanier, his eldest son, lived in the home from 1851 to 1895. He continued to develop the home and its gardens until his death.

The Lanier Mansion is an example of the Greek Revival style of architecture, one of the most popular styles of the mid-nineteenth century. The gardens have been restored to reflect the style of the time period. Included in the restoration are historic plants that were originally used in the gardens of the mansion or surrounding areas.

The mansion’s portico, with its Corinthian columns, faces the Ohio River. Other exterior details include the octagonal cupola, oculus windows and iron railings. The interior, with its central hall and elegant spiral staircase, epitomizes the Greek Revival style.

 

 

Hours:
 The Lanier Mansion is open year round. Guided tours at regular intervals between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
 Last tour begins at 4:00 p.m.
Open year round.
Admission is charged.

Lanier Mansion State Historic Site is part of The Department of Natural Resources’ Division of State Museums and Historic Sites

511 W. First Street.
Madison, IN 47250
(812)265-3526
 http://www.state.in.us/ism.