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I’m so excited to share a new series I’m starting here on KelseeBHankins.com! Several posts that I’ve written in the past about museums and travel have been about locations out East. This spring, I’ve decided to create a little series of posts highlighting a few locations a little bit closer to home.
With no further ado, here’s the inaugural post of Kelsee’s Hoosier Highlights!
Facts about Kelsee:
- She loves history.
- She loves learning.
- She loves museums.
- She loves going new places.
I have no idea why I referred to myself in the third person.
Enter an invite to check out and learn more about the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site.
I hadn’t been to Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site since elementary school and I’ve lived in downtown Indianapolis for years now. This beautiful property lies right on the corner of North Delaware Street and East 13th Street in the Old Northside neighborhood. History is alive and well all over Indianapolis, even in these spots that you might just drive by every day!
I was lucky and got to check out the site with the President & CEO of the museum and as a museum geek, that’s about as exciting as it gets sometimes! Conversations with people who are passionate about the mission of their museum and who are extremely knowledgeable about a specific place are the most fun to talk to. It doesn’t matter if it’s a passionate museum educator, volunteer, or in my case, the CEO, the experience is always so much more exciting when someone sparks you to keep learning more about a topic.
Something Really Cool
The Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site is in the midst of a really neat project that’s bringing some of their artifacts into the 21st Century via 3D printing! Through their New Century eCollection Initiative, they’re creating a new way for their visitors (in the physical home itself and online) to experience the artifacts in their collections. At present, less than 10% of their collection is currently accessible to the public. With the help of 2D and 3D scanning & printing, they are making their collection available to people all over the world and not just in Indianapolis, actively sharing information that some people might never see otherwise. Plus, it’s making historical information and details accessible to a whole new audience. It’s fascinating! Visit their website and you can see some of it in action right on the homepage!
For History Nerds
This Presidential Site is also a national historic landmark, right near the heart of downtown Indianapolis. I also think it’s worth noting that we’ve only had 45 men who’ve served as the President of the United States and it’s cool that we have one of their homes right here in Indianapolis.
The historical significance of President Benjamin Harrison is pretty extensive – like, much more than I could ever cover in one single post. Some major highlights about President Harrison that stood out to me during my experience in the home were:
- He was (and still is) the only Hoosier President!
- He was the Centennial President, taking office 100 years after George Washington
- Six states joined the Union during his presidency – that’s more than any other President!
- His administration laid the groundwork for what is now the Social Security Administration and the National Park Service.
In 2018, that’s still pretty impressive!
For Museum Geeks
This Presidential Site is by no means large. It’s a home that now stands as a landmark for teaching history in a way that is relatable to everyone. Think about it: You walk into a museum and often see items strategically on display, probably also out of context from their original uses. However, you come into a home museum like this and it’s easy to be transported back in time and picture it as a place where people could live. While it’s a home that’s different from yours I would guess, your home probably has a dining room or an office and this home does as well – it’s just different than yours. The building has plenty of original woodwork and trim, but it’s an easy access point to seeing that our Presidents are also people who seek the comforts of home and family. I think the phrase we kept using during our conversation was that the home “really speaks to the human-ness of a president” and it’s totally true.
The top floor ballroom space is another exhibit space hosting the Six Degrees of Benjamin Harrison exhibit. It’s pretty cool how they’ve found Benjamin Harrison’s connections with celebrities, athletes, royalty, and you better believe they found a connection to Kevin Bacon! It’s well worth a visit!
There were also a ton of humorous anecdotes that were shared with me about Harrison, like the time he chased a goat cart down Pennsylvania Avenue. I won’t share the whole story, but I definitely got a good chuckle!
I was also excited to find out that they pull off everything they do with NINE full-time staff members, several part-time staff, and over 160 volunteers! That’s pretty amazing. Volunteers are vetted & trained, but then they lead their own tours! Another great opportunity for people who are excited and passionate about history to share their excitement with 30,000 visitors that come through their doors each year!
The docent-led tours last about 75 minutes. Admission includes the tour, as well as special exhibits and LIVE! events. If you’re looking for a short activity that is good for the family or for visitors, this is a great option to consider.
They’ve got some great events on the grounds throughout the year that sound really exciting.
- Coffee with the Curator – a 30 minute First Friday program with opportunities to learn more about specific items in their collection!
- Wicked World of Croquet – Experience croquet the way it should be played, or watch the festivities from the Porch Party!
- Candlelight Theatre’s Season – They use the whole home by going from room-to-room as part of their productions.
Address: 1230 North Delaware Street Indianapolis, IN 46202
- Presidential Site Members: FREE
- Adults (ages 13-64): $10
- Seniors & AAA Members: $9
- Children (ages 5-12): $5
- Pre-school (ages 4 & under): FREE
- Group Rates are available.
- Book Online Here
Looking forward to sharing more of my Hoosier Highlights with you soon! Details forthcoming!
Have you been to the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site? What are some of your favorite hidden Indy gems?