Indiana: Other Historic Sites Summary

  • Last updated on November 10, 2022

A list of important historic sites in Indiana.

Angel Mounds

Location: Evansville, Vanderburgh County

Relevant issues: American Indian history

Statement of significance: Covering a hundred-acre area, this site is the northeastern-most extension of the Mississippian culture, which flourished in the period 1000-1600 c.e. The mounds now form a state park.

Butler Fieldhouse

Location: Indianapolis, Marion County

Relevant issues: Sports

Statement of significance: This is the oldest of the major college basketball fieldhouses and still the largest at a private institution. Its large size helped transform college basketball in the late 1920’s and 1930’s. It was long the location of the Indiana State High School Tournament, one of the most active and well-known such tournaments in the country.

Cannelton Cotton Mills

Location: Cannelton, Perry County

Relevant issues: Business and industry

Statement of significance: Begun in 1849, this is one of the most impressive pre-Civil War mills in the Midwest. Situated on the bluffs above the Ohio River, the mill operated for over one hundred years, manufacturing thread and cloth. It was one of the first American mill buildings which strove to wed utility and aesthetics. Innovative in design, using steam instead of water power and Southern cotton as raw material, the manufactory never reached its goal as a major industrial center in spite of the fact that it was constructed as a challenge to the textile industry of New England.

Coffin House

Location: Fountain City, Wayne County

Relevant issues: African American history

Web site: www.waynet.wayne.in.us/nonprofit/coffin.htm

Statement of significance: From 1827 to 1847, this two-story brick house served as the “Union Depot of the Underground Railroad”; its owner, Levi Coffin (1789-1877), a successful businessman, is believed to have helped as many as two thousand runaway slaves on their flight to freedom during this period. After emancipation occurred during the Civil War, Coffin devoted much of the remainder of his life to improving the lot of freedmen.

Debs Home

Location: Terre Haute, Vigo County

Relevant issues: Political history, social reform

Statement of significance: From 1890 until his death, this two-story frame building was the home of Eugene Victor Debs (1855-1926), the founder of industrial unionism in the United States and the Socialist Party’s presidential candidate in five presidential elections (1900-1920, except 1916).

Harrison Home

Location: Indianapolis, Marion County

Relevant issues: Political history

Statement of significance: From 1875 until his death, this was the residence of Benjamin Harrison (1833-1901), twenty-third president of the United States (1889-1893). Harrison accepted the Republican Party’s nomination for the presidency in this home in 1888.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Location: Speedway, Marion County

Relevant issues: Sports

Statement of significance: Constructed in 1909, this is the only reasonably intact early twentieth century high-speed auto race course in the country and the oldest continuously operated automobile race course anywhere. It has long been the premier auto racing site in the United States: Since 1911, it has been the site of the Indianapolis 500, one of the largest single-day spectator sporting events in the world. The Speedway has also made significant contributions to automobile design, performance, technology, and safety.

Lincoln Boyhood Home

Location: Lincoln City, Spencer County

Relevant issues: Political history

Statement of significance: The family of Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) lived in southern Indiana from 1816 to 1830, a period in which he grew to manhood and received his early instruction in reading the law. The traditional gravesite of Lincoln’s mother and the site of the Lincoln cabin are here.

Madam C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company

Location: Indianapolis, Marion County

Relevant issues: African American history, business and industry, women’s history

Statement of significance: This building (1927) was the hub of the beauty industry initiated and developed by Madam C. J. Walker (1867-1919), the first black woman to open the field of cosmetology as a new and lucrative industry for black women. For years, the Walker Company was the most successful black business in the United States. Besides being the national headquarters and manufacturing site where approximately three thousand women were employed, the Walker Company also served as a community cultural center, housing a ballroom and theater. The Walker Theater is one of the few remaining examples of Africanized architecture popularized in the 1920’s and 1930’s.

Riley House

Location: Indianapolis, Marion County

Relevant issues: Literary history

Statement of significance: From 1893 until his death, this two-story Victorian style brick building was the home of James Whitcomb Riley (1849-1916), the “Hoosier poet.” Riley wrote in the American vernacular on homespun subjects; his residence contains memorabilia of his life and career.

Studebaker House

Location: South Bend, St. Joseph County

Relevant issues: Business and industry

Statement of significance: From 1889 until his death, this was the residence of Clement Studebaker (1831-1901), blacksmith and wagonmaker. In 1852, he cofounded the company which by the 1890’s would become the largest producer of horse-drawn vehicles in the world; Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company also has the distinction of being the only wagon-manufacturing firm in the country to convert successfully to automobile manufacture.

Tippecanoe Battlefield

Location: Lafayette, Tippecanoe County

Relevant issues: American Indian history, military history

Statement of significance: In response to the efforts of Shawnee chief Tecumseh and his brother, the Prophet, to unite the Indian nations of the northwest and southwest territories to resist American expansion, Indiana Territory governor William Henry Harrison led a force of about one thousand men to the Shawnee settlement at the Great Clearing, where Tippecanoe Creek flows into the Wabash. On November 7, 1811, Harrison’s army defeated the Shawnee led by the Prophet and sacked their village, in the process destroying all hope that Tecumseh had for an Indian confederacy. The American victory here was also an important cause of the second war with Britain (1812-1815).

Wallace Circus Winter Headquarters

Location: Peru, Miami County

Relevant issues: Cultural history

Statement of significance: Used by Benjamin (“Ben”) E. Wallace and his successors, the American Circus Corporation and the Ringlings, the complex contains several rare examples of structures associated with the heyday of the American circus which date from an era of prosperity in the business, the 1920’s.

Wallace Study

Location: Crawfordsville, Montgomery County

Relevant issues: Civil War, literary history, military history

Statement of significance: From 1898 until his death, this was the study of Lew Wallace (1827-1905), American general, diplomat, and author. During the Civil War, Wallace played an important part in the victory at Fort Donelson and the Battle of Monocacy, Maryland; after the war’s end, he served on the military tribunal that tried and convicted the conspirators in Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. During Reconstruction, he was an influential Radical Republican. His novel Ben-Hur was published in 1880.

Webster House

Location: Marion, Grant County

Relevant issues: Art and architecture, cultural history

Statement of significance: This was the home of Marie Webster (1859-1956), a master of quilting and a noted advocate of this artistic craft. Webster did not begin quilting until she was fifty years old; her first quilt, based on the traditional Rose of Sharon pattern, displayed Webster’s creative talent, resulting in a stunning three-dimensional effect. In 1911 and 1912, Webster’s unique designs were featured in Ladies’ Home Journal. The popularity of these designs led to the publication in 1915 of her book Quilts: Their History and How to Make Them.

West Baden Springs Hotel

Location: West Baden Springs, Orange County

Relevant issues: Art and architecture

Web site: wbs@historicalandmarks.org

Statement of significance: The focus of the community that dubbed itself the “Wiesbaden” (West Baden) or “Carlsbad” of America because of its mineral water springs, the hotel (1902) is a major feat of engineering, with an immense covered steel and glass dome, two hundred feet in diameter, which was the largest in the world when built.

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