Life of Benjamin Harrison is focus of program
February 13, 2013 3:06PM
At a Glance
◆ “President’s Day: LIVE! From Delaware Street,” at Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site. Guided tours, theatrical performances, candlelight dinners and presentations, speakers and more are offered at the home.
◆ 1230 N. Delaware St., Indianapolis
◆ President’s Day program: $14 adults; $6 ages 5 to 17
◆ Regular tours: $10 adults; $5 ages 5 to 17 and college students with identification; free for children up to age 4; discounts for seniors and AAA members
◆ (317) 631-1888; www.presidentbenjaminharrison.org
Updated: March 15, 2013 1:21PM
Monday is President’s Day. At the Indianapolis home of Benjamin Harrison, the only president from Indiana, visitors can have a unique experience to learn about the man, his life and his times at “President’s Day: LIVE! From Delaware Street.”
Harrison was our 23rd president, serving from 1889 to 1893. This special event at the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site will offer guided tours of his beautiful Victorian Italianate home along with a chance to meet Harrison, Mary Lord his second wife, Josie the household seamstress, Delia their cook and Charles the butler, as portrayed by costumed actors and based on extensive research done on each person portrayed.
“The year is 1898. He’s no longer president and is back in Indianapolis and living in the house. His daughter from his second marriage is about to be 1 year old. As you move through certain rooms of the house, you’ll get a chance to meet the actors and to hear about their lives, the times and about preparations going on in the house,” explained Melissa Calahan, director of volunteers at the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site.
“The home is an example of Victorian life at its best. It’s 10,000 square feet. It’s on what was the affluent north side of Indianapolis, yet this house was kind of modest for the neighborhood. Unfortunately, most of the other homes from that era have since been razed,” Calahan said.
She said that this house was saved by several factors, including getting on the historic register as Interstate 65 was being constructed through the neighborhood. Not only has this house survived, but she said about 80 percent of the artifacts inside were originally Harrison’s pieces, and other things, like the wallpaper and coach house, are copies of the originals.
Calahan said that much research has been done about the home and those who lived there, and that much of that has been done by site volunteers, who also offer the tours and keep up the grounds as this site is not operated by the government.
Another unique experience for visitors on President’s Day will be offered as part of the opening day for the new exhibit in the third floor ballroom of the home.
“Every year we open a new exhibit on President’s Day. This new exhibit is ‘Raising the Hem: Historic Fashions of American Nobility,’ which includes dresses worn by various first ladies. And for the opening day actresses from the Oaklandon Civic Theater will be here in costume presenting several presidential wives, tying in to an upcoming play they’re presenting (‘Ladies First,’ March 15-24). I know we’ll have Jackie Kennedy, Mamie Eisenhower and others,” Calahan said.