Madison, Indiana is a charming little town about 100 miles south of Indianapolis. It is located on the Ohio River and there you will find the beautiful Lanier Mansion overlooking the river. The large mansion was built in 1844 by James Lanier.
James Franklin Doughty Lanier was one of Madison’s pioneers. As a result of his activities in banking and railroad development, he became one of the most important and influential figures in Indiana’s history in the first half of the 19th century.
Lanier’s good business decisions allowed him to hire Madison architect Francis Costigan to design and build for him the grandest residence ever imagined in Madison. The home was built on the same riverfront property where Lanier had lived with his family since the 1820s. The Lanier Mansion was completed and occupied in 1844.
The Lanier Mansion is one of the best examples of Greek Revival architecture in the country, and today is acknowledged as the “Crown Jewel” of Madison’s Historic District. The south portico, with its colossal Corinthian columns, overlooks the Ohio River. Other distinctive exterior features include the octagonal cupola, oculus windows and iron balustrades. Below the house, formal gardens developed by Lanier’s son, Alexander, after the Civil War, have been recreated with plant varieties authentic to the period. The interior, with its central hall and elegant spiral staircase, epitomizes the Greek Revival style. In recent years, restoration and redecoration, made possible largely by funding from private contributions,has recaptured the Mansion’s 19th century splendor. The Lanier Mansion was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1994.
The Lanier Mansion is open daily. For times and more information, visit Lanier Mansion State Historic Site. This makes a great day trip as you can see the Ohio River while you are there.