Stately and majestic, set off from the bustling city of present-day Indy by sprawling, manicured lawns and long-established gardens with trees towering above the third story, the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Home has long been on the list of visitors’ favorite things to do in Indianapolis, Indiana, and a bastion of Indianapolis sights to see.
The former home of U.S. President Benjamin Harrison, who presided from 1889 to 1893, is not just any old home tour. In keeping with the home’s mission statement to “increase public understanding of, appreciation for, and participation in the American system of self government through the life stories of an American President,” the Home offers some unique and fascinating activities to the public.
One such event is a dramatic stage play murder mystery prosecuted by Benjamin Harrison, in which the ending is determined each night by the audience. This is billed as “Victorian Theatre by Candlelight.”
More events include the “Mary Tucker Jasper Speaker Series,” charity events such as the “Simon Evening of Giving,” and a fascinating tour through the Home listening to lifelike conversations the family members, friends and staff might have had during election day.
Another crowd-pleaser is the annual old-fashioned ice cream social, complete with a Punch and Judy puppet show, Victorian games, various enactments from the time period, music, food and a scavenger hunt.
The beautiful President Benjamin Harrison Home itself is worth visiting whether you’re interested in Indianapolis history or not. There are guided half-hour tours every Monday through Saturday and it is open some Sundays too. Since its inception, it has become one of the primary destinations of all Indianapolis attractions.
Ten rooms of the home have been preserved for touring and there is an elevator for those who find stairs a challenge. The third floor ballroom is included in the tour and there is a new building with restrooms behind the home.
The gift shop offers fine reproduction china from the period, with pieces starting at $24, presidential signature mugs as an affordable keepsake for only $5, a good range of carefully selected books including “Wit and Wisdom of the American Presidents” for just $2, gifts such as the President Benjamin Harrison Home Pencil for 40 cents, Harrison golf balls, souvenir spoons, money clips, tote bags, note cards, postcards and umbrellas and toys such as tabletop ninepins.
The rates for a program and tour are only $5 per student, and groups up to 50 can be accommodated. They can even handle much larger groups by dividing them in half, with half going on tour and half enjoying a program. These packages are two and a half hours in duration. What a great way to plant an unforgettable and positive memory about history in a kid’s head! A visit to this treasure trove of Indianapolis heritage should be mandatory for all Indianapolis children, and their parents.
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Benjamin Harrison Presidential Home
230 North Delaware Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202
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