Restored Homes and Historic Sites Day Trips from Indianapolis
In and all around Indianapolis, and throughout the state of Indiana and on into the Midwest, travelers can find fabulous restored homes and historic sites that make fun and fruitful day trips from Indianapolis for the adventurous family. Want something more in your lives than bowling and theme parks? Visit one of the many historic sites in Indianapolis and Central Indiana, many of which are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Here is our collection of restored homes and historic sites that offer unforgettable historic sites day trips from Indianapolis. Once you try this pleasant pastime, you’ll soon be making lists of your own.
Restored Homes and Historic Sites
Billie Creek Village in Rockville, Indiana
This interactive living history museum is the Conner Prairie of western Indiana. Featuring dozens of early nineteenth century buildings, Billie Creek Village is best known for its beautiful covered bridges. While touring the covered bridges of Parke County, visitors love making a stop at Billie Creek Village, where they can pet the farm animals, buy fresh Maple syrup or watch soap being made. Everything at the village is done the old fashioned way. Each year hundreds of guests pass through Rockville, Indiana to see Billie Creek Village, the Covered Bridge Festival and all the beautiful covered bridges in Parke County.
Culbertson Mansion State Historic Site in New Albany, Indiana
Indiana’s richest businessman built this house in 1869. William S. Culbertson’s Victorian style home is now a State Historic Site, and a great destination for a day trip from Indianapolis. The home is now open for tours, and has been restored to its 1800s appearance and décor. During Halloween season the Culbertson Mansion becomes a thrilling haunted house, and it’s become a very popular haunted house in Indiana.
Das Dutchman Essenhaus in Middlebury, Indiana
Amish-style cuisine, scenic landscape and village shops are the main hotspots at Das Dutchman Essenhaus. Country cooking served family-style with its own home-style bakery options make up the popular menu at this Middlebury, Indiana restaurant. A historic inn on the property has more than 80 rooms for rent and conference center space for business meetings. Bicycling, shopping and miniature golfing are featured activities at Das Dutchman Essenhaus. Seasonal carriage rides are offered along the scenic tour of the grounds, which includes one of Indiana’s classic covered bridges. Catering, a wholesale food store and a bakery is also available, so you can take home some of the delicious goods found in this northern Indiana town.
Doctor James Ford Historic Home in Wabash, Indiana
Civil War Doctor James Ford was a surgeon in the U.S. Army. He and his wife began by building a one room brick home for their small family. Guided tours of this Indiana attraction are available, but most guests wander through the home in no particular order. The home has been restored to its 1875 appearance, so visitors can get a glimpse into life of the past.
Eugene V. Debs Home in Terre Haute, Indiana
This political and social activist made a name for himself during the socialist movement of the early 1900s. Eugene V. Debs lived in Terre Haute, Indiana with his wife, and they often entertained guests the likes of poet James Whitcomb Riley. The Eugene V. Debs Home is located on the beautiful campus of Indiana State University, and it has become a museum of Debs’ life. There are murals, original furnishings and even his personal library.
General Lew Wallace Study and Museum in Crawfordsville, Indiana
Ben Hur, the best-selling novel of the nineteenth century, was penned in and around the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum. Wallace’s home has been restored and opened as a museum, where historic artifacts, books and other memorabilia are on display. In 2008, the Crawfordsville Park and Recreation Department was awarded the highest museum honor in the country, a National Medal for Museum and Library Service.
The Grave in the Middle of the Road in Amity, Indiana
Nancy Kerlin Barnett is buried right in the middle of County Road 400 in Amity, Indiana. The area wasn’t always covered by asphalt. Before the road was built through town the area was a scenic spot on a small hill overlooking Sugar Creek. It was Nancy’s favorite place, and she was buried there in 1831. A few graves were later placed on the hill, but were eventually removed without protest. Nancy’s grave was special though, because her family took a stand in the early 1900s when the county tried to expand the road. That’s when Nancy’s grandson took a stand and guarded her grave with his life, and his shotgun. So, the road project simply worked around it, and in 1912 a historical marker was placed there. Now, the Grave in the Middle of the Road is an amusing attraction to witness on a road trip through the Crossroads of America.
Grouseland Mansion in Vincennes, Indiana
William Henry Harrison, the famous governor of the Indiana territory, lived in Vincennes, Indiana during the early 1800s. His beautiful two-story brick mansion still stands today, and is open for tours. Indiana history was made on the front lawn of the Grouseland mansion, where Harrison met with Shawnee Chief Tecumseh. Conflicts between the Americans and the natives eventually led to much war and countless casualties. William Henry Harrison went down in history as a a war hero for defeating the Shawnee and helping Americans to expand westward. Hoosiers visit Grouseland to take in all that happened there, and to catch a glimpse of luxury living in earlier times.
From the traditional Halloween ZooBoo at the Indianapolis Zoo to the Historic Hannah House, the grand state of Indiana is home to a multitude of scary secrets, some of them downright terrifying. We’ve compiled a list of some 25 popular places where you can spend the day being pleasantly spooked, all either fairly close to Indy or within the bounds of the metropolis.
Hazelton Mansion in Brook, Indiana
George Ade was an author during the Golden Age of Indiana literature. His historic home was restored to perpetuate his legacy. On the ground level of the Hazelton Mansion sits the desk where George Ade penned many of his books, newspaper articles and plays. At one time, Ade hosted such guests as Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, both while on their respective campaign trials. A highight of the Hazelton Msion is the famous photograph of Tarkington, Riley, Nicholson and Ade. The photo of the four literary giants hangs on a wall in the home for guests to see for themselves. A brief history of George Ade’s career is also outlined, from his time at Chicago newspapers to his best selling book Fables in Slang.
Jane Todd Crawford Grave in Graysville, Indiana
When Jane Todd Crawford developed abdominal pain and a swollen midsection, doctors thought her to be pregnant with twins. Nine months later, Mrs. Crawford had no babies. In fact, she had a giant cystic ovarian tumor. She rode over sixty miles in winter on horseback to see a doctor that could help her. Doctor Ephraim McDowell then performed an experimental surgery to remove the tumor. He went down in history as the first doctor to successfully perform an abdominal operation. Jane Todd Crawford lived a long life and died in Graysville. Her grave has its original headstone, a historical sign and a full ledger. A granite monument stands nearby telling Hoosiers the heroism of Mrs. Crawford.
For nearly a century, the Old Bag Factory in Goshen, Indiana was a major bag manufacturer until the 1980s. It was taken over by Nancy and Larion Swartzendruber, who turned the four story brick building and surrounding areas into unique shops. Specialty products, unique gifts and novelty items are all found at this Indiana shopping location. A day trip to the Old Bag Factory, can be educational too. The old trolley line’s switch panels and part of the old track are still displayed here. The trolley line was well-known throughout the Hoosier State, and it was among the first of its kind in the area. Don’t forget about food. A full-service restaurant, The Trolley Cafe, is well known hotspot at the Old Bag Factory.
Indiana’s oldest lighthouse is located in Michigan City, Indiana. The lighthouse was converted into a museum, and visitors flock from all around for tours of this historic and educational adventure.
The Reno Gang in Seymour, Indiana
Indiana’s rowdy rebels of today pale in comparison to the bad bunch of brothers in The Reno Gang. The gang is best known for a series of train robberies in the Seymour area, and one of their infamous acts was the first train robbery in the United States. Many of the gang’s leaders were later killed for their crimes, and the grave site of a few members is located in Seymour too. For a glimpse into the criminal mischief of the past, visit Seymour, Indiana and follow the steps of The Reno Gang, from birth to death.
Reitz Home Museum in Evansville, Indiana
The Reitz Home Museum was one of the first houses in Evansville to have an indoor bathroom, city water, electricity and a phone line. This huge family mansion was built in the early 1870s by John and Gertrude Reitz. It’s a Victorian style mansion that once accommodated the large Reitz family, which included 10 children. Visitors love to stroll through this upscale residence, catching a glimpse of life in the past. The Reitz Home Museum was restored to look like it did in the late 1800s, and this historic home attracts hundreds of Hoosier visitors each year.
Rotary Jail Museum in Crawfordsville, Indiana
Cells were divided into pie-like slices that were operated by a crank system at this former jail. It was built in 1882, and stayed in operation for almost 100 years servicing the Montgomery County prison population. The prison building was designed in such way that it could operate with minimal staff. A single guard could monitor all cells without ever coming into contact with a prisoner. The rotary jail was forced to close in 1973 because of deteriorating conditions and health hazards. It has since been restored and now operates as the Rotary Jail Museum. Only a few jails in the country were ever built with this model, so it’s worth a trip to go see this very unique museum.
Ruthmere Mansion and Museum in Elkhart, Indiana
This historic mansion home was the first Beaux Arts mansion in the Elkhart, Indiana region. It was home to A.R. and Elizabeth Beardsley, a very prominent couple in the northern Indiana community. The mansion was built by famous Chicago architect E. Hill Turnock in 1910. The Beardsleys named this famous mansion, which is now a museum, after their late daughter Ruth. This unique museum experience gives Hoosiers a glimpse into the lifestyle of the wealthy and affluent in the early 1900s. Intricate woodwork, classic art collections, beautiful gardens and many other features of Ruthmere wow visitors each year.
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