After discovering and exploring the underground Catacombs in Indianapolis a few years ago I decided it was time to make a trip back to Indy to explore the history of the city – with my family! When the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site reached out to me to let me know about their extensive collection of 3D Printing Files I knew I needed to go visit!
Quick Video Tour + Presidential Facts of the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site Grounds:
Here’s what I love about Indianapolis – there is SO MUCH to do there for families. There’s an incredible amount of history, it’s very family-friendly, and everything we did on our trip was within 15 minutes of being downtown. Very easily accessible! In fact some of the days we just left our car parked at our hotel and walked!
We spent an extended Labor Day weekend in the area with a desperate need to get away and create some memories together. My husband is an elementary school principal and I straddle between running several websites as well as volunteering at the school so we were pretty run down. Not to mention my youngest child had strep that weekend! The Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site was first on our itinerary and our entire family enjoyed the visit SO much. I’d love to go back!
After your visit not far away is the Colts Canal Playspace which is a fantastic playground for kids right off of the canal downtown.
Where to Park at the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site:
The Benjamin Harrison home is found nestled in a lovely historic neighborhood – you can’t miss the house! You can either choose to park on the street like we did, or drive around behind the presidential site and look for parking in their parking lot. There are also restrooms there in the parking lot which I recommend using before you begin your tour!
How to Buy Tickets to the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site:
You can buy your tickets in person inside the Welcome Center (red barn behind the house) or you can purchase your tickets online here before you visit. Either way you will need to begin your day by starting inside the Welcome Center. You can check in and purchase tickets at the front desk. Off to the right of the desk is a free presidential humor museum that was just fantastic! There are some pretty cheeky presidential jabs through time along with quirky campaign pins and souvenirs from various presidencies. I would love to see an entire museum just like this – it was so cool!
To the left of the desk is a fabulous gift shop AND Benjamin Harrison’s original stagecoach! The cool thing about the gift shop is that they had a wall of stuffed animals, all reasonably priced, that were named after various presidential pets. From recent presidential pets to historic presidential pets – you’ll find everything in there from cats and dogs to goats and opossums!
Once you have your tickets squared away the tour begins at the front of the presidential home. They’ll let you know when it’s time to meet there!
Benjamin Harrison’s home was built in 1875 and contains over 10,000 artifacts from the Harrison’s making it one of the most original houses in the country when it comes to presidential sites. It’s absolutely fantastic and was one of my favorite sites to visit. The tour was very intimate with a tour guide just for our family (depends how many people are there that day!) and there was a story behind every piece of furniture, picture frame, and design in the house!
Out of all of the presidential sites that I’ve ever been to, this was one I walked in to knowing absolutely nothing about this president. By the time I walked out not only were my kids saying “WOW I’m so glad we came!” but I left feeling like I was a special guest at President Harrison’s house. Furniture that President and Mrs. Harrison sat in….ALL over the house! Over 100 paintings that Mrs. Harrison painted hung throughout the house. It felt so homey and stunning. When President Harrison passed away his children moved all of their belongings into storage which is why there are so many amazing items in the collection.
In the dining room here you are looking at the personal silverware of the Harrison family, complete with scripted initials! It was a really elegant display. What I really loved about this tour was how much I learned not only about Benjamin Harrison, but about his creative wife Caroline. She had 3 college degrees – all in the music and arts. She designed many aspects of their family home, including in the dining room where the carpet sloped down into the wooden floor so that the butler would not trip on it as he served the table.
Furniture and paintings weren’t the only original artifacts in the Benjamin Harrison Presidential site. Surprisingly there was also a lovely number of original dresses from the family as well!
It looks like a magazine display doesn’t it?! This is President Harrison’s bed.
Facts about the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site:
- This is the only presidential site you can actually vote in.
- This is the 4th presidential site in the country for the highest amount of school traffic.
- Annual Future Presidents of America Camp with speakers from the Harrison family attending.
- Candlelight Theatre – an immersive theatre performance inside the house!
- Croquet, Coffee with the Curator, Ghost Tales, and other intimate events! See all the events here!
- 5 Beautiful Gardens to enjoy!
Accomplishments by Benjamin Harrison:
- The first to have Christmas trees in the White House.
- First president to drive a car.
- Protected 13 million acres of land including Yosemite and Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon.
- Required the US flag to be flown at government buildings.
- Started the first urban park (Rock Creek Park)
- Started the Pan-Am Conference.
- The first president to visit the west coast.
- The first president to have his voice recorded.
- Six states were added during his presidency (Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming).
Accomplishments by Caroline Harrison:
- Founded DAR – Daughters of the American Revolution.
- The first First Lady to finish college.
- Held three degrees in art, music and literature.
- Established the collection of china associated with White House history.
- Advocated for women’s rights.
- Added electricity into the White House.
Upstairs in the Harrison home was an exhibit called “Glitz and Glamour in the White House”. Wowza! It certainly was a beautiful display and really swept me up in what it might have been like for the Harrison family during the presidency. Stunning dresses, wild furniture, special medals, and one of a kind gifts – it was just beautiful and so nicely done! The stairs are very steep getting up there so make sure you hold little ones by the hand! This part of the tour gives you time to explore the room and displays with plenty of time to look around!
A few years ago I had the exclusive opportunity to tour Sewah Studios in Ohio which makes historical markers just like the one designated in front of the Harrison home! Now I look for these markers all over the country so I can learn more about each location! Around the back of the house and on the side don’t miss the gardens to enjoy! The property is a lovely place for a walk! You can find the Harrison’s final resting place in Crown Hill Cemetery, also in Indianapolis not far away, to wrap up your day learning about Benjamin and Caroline Harrison. Such a fascinating and loveable couple who did great things for our country!
FREE 3D Printing Files of the Benjamin Harrison Collection:
If you have access to a 3D printer than you have found the right place for a treasure trove of presidential site 3D printing files! Thanks to a collaboration with a local university, the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site offers FREE 3D printing files of many of their presidential artifacts! To find the 3D printing files simply visit their Collections, and click on any artifact of interest. If you see the “Download 3D Object button” then they have a 3D printing file through Sketchlab! You can even rotate and view the 3D object too!