John and Gertrude Reitz built a huge state-of-the-art mansion home in the early 1870s, and it was one of the first houses in Evansville, Indiana to include a bathroom indoors. Advancements like city water, electricity and a telephone were other firsts at the Reitz Home. This huge Victorian style mansion accommodated the large Reitz family, housing the couple all 10 of the children. The Reitz Home remained in the family from the time it was constructed until the final Reitz child died. Then the house became the residence of Evansville’s Catholic bishop, and also a Catholic home for women. The structure was donated to the Reitz Home Preservation Society in 1974, and the museum opened soon after.
The house itself has undergone a massive redecoration, but the home’s interior details and amenities continue to amaze people. For example, tourists can see their own reflections in the mirror of the Tiffany Mantel above the fireplace, made of white onyx and gold. Much of the home’s furniture is from the Victorian era. Another amenity in the Reitz Home Museum is the beautiful stained glass windows. Unlike the typical fixed stained glass of the time, these windows are set in brass trim frames so they may be opened. Also, the parquet floors in the house were made from local Indiana woods.
Tours of the Reitz Home Museum are available during museum hours, and special group tours can be arranged for families, school field trips and large parties. The art, woodwork, interior design and decorations keep museum visitors constantly distracted. This Indiana attraction is great day trip from Indianapolis. For a similar Indiana museum experience, check out the Eugene V. Debs Home, Ruthmere Mansion or the Levi Coffin House.
The Reitz Home Museum is recognized as one of the best examples of French Second Empire architecture in the U.S. When the Reitz couple died in th 1890s, their son took over the house and redecorated it with a variety of Victorian styles, many still in the museum today. This awesome Indiana day trip destination made the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. The Victorian Society in America even gave the Reitz Home Museum a commendation for the preservation and restoration of a Victorian mansion.
There is only a small fee to enter the Reitz Home Museum, but students and children get great discounts. The drive from Indianapolis to Evansville takes less than four hours, making it the perfect day trip or weekend getaway. Tours of the Reitz Home Museum are available Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Reitz Home Museum
224 Southeast 1st Street
Evansville, Indiana 47713