Hoosiers and the Arts

Tour curated by: Indiana Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology

A place is nothing without its culture, and that holds true especially in Indiana. Hoosiers like Gene-Stratton Porter and James Whitcomb Riley have had huge influences on their respective fields. Indiana Avenue was a central hub for jazz in Indianapolis and the state as a whole. Much of “Ben-Hur” was written by General Lew Wallace in his Crawfordsville home. The link between Indiana and the arts is undeniable.

This tour highlights sites and homes across the state that have strong ties to individuals and groups who have produced major contributions to the arts in Indiana. From writers to artists to music, the Hoosiers and the Arts tour will provide you with an expansive look at Indiana culture. Discover Indiana invites you to take a journey across the 19th state and experience the relationship between Indiana and the arts!

Please keep in mind that each tour is by no means a comprehensive list of sites in Indiana related to each theme. Please be respectful of private property lines when visiting each of these sites.

Locations for Tour

James Whitcomb Riley was born in 1849 in a log cabin. That cabin, constructed in 1847, is now the kitchen wing of the current house. The two story main portion of the house was built by James’ father, Reuben, from 1850-1853. Reuben Riley was a…

James Whitcomb Riley’s writing opportunities increased with his move to Indianapolis. He worked for the Indianapolis Journal and continued writing on his own. His first real success came with a series entitled “Benjamin F. Johnson of Boone”.…

Geneva “Gene” Stratton was born in 1863 on a farm near Wabash to nature-loving parents. It is because of their strong influence that nature was a continuous theme throughout their daughter’s life as an author, naturalist, photographer, and…

Located outside of Brookville along the east fork of the Whitewater River, the Hermitage was the home of Hoosier School artist J. Ottis Adams. Adams and fellow Hoosier School artist T. C. Steele, happened across the house in 1897 and purchased it,…

Marie Webster revolutionized quilt making at the beginning of the 20th century. Previously quilt designs were passed down through families by women. These predominantly geometrical designs were pieced together and often had regional similarities.…

Lew Wallace is probably best known as the author of Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, but his long and storied life goes far beyond his literary work. Wallace also served as a first lieutenant in the Mexican War in 1846 prior to being admitted to the…

Paul Dresser gained notoriety both nationally and internationally as a songwriter. His early career started with a part in a medicine show in Indianapolis. From there he worked as an actor, playwright, songwriter, producer, and music publisher. His…

Joel Roberts Ninde was a self-taught architect in Fort Wayne. Her first design was the house that she and her husband, Lee J. Ninde, lived in. She refused to live in his family home due to the dark and drafty rooms, and they could not find a home…

One of the four original diagonal streets of the 1821 plan for Indianapolis, Indiana Avenue was the core of African American life in Indianapolis. Businesses along the avenue, particularly the 400 and 500 blocks, provided food, housing,…

Hazelden, known as “The House Where Laughter Dwelt”, was the home of writer George Ade. He started as a weather reporter for the Chicago Record in 1890. In 1893, he was assigned to cover the Columbian Exposition in Chicago and his series “All…

The Overbeck sisters—Margaret, Hannah, Elizabeth, and Mary Frances, started a pottery studio in 1911 in the basement of their parents’ home. They created functional pieces and small figurines utilizing metal, wood, fabric, water colors, and oil.…

The Allen County Courthouse is among the most ornate and intact county courthouses in the Midwest, completed in 1902 to the plans of architect Brentwood Tolan, a Fort Wayne architect. An outstanding example of the Beaux Arts style, the building is…

The Carnegie Center is housed in the former Carnegie Free Public Library (constructed in 1902) and is a division of the New Albany-Floyd County Public Library. Staff at the Center have developed a permanent interactive exhibit about the Underground…

The Propylaeum was founded in 1888 by a group of seven Indianapolis women. The original purpose of the meeting was to find a headquarters for the Indianapolis Woman’s Club. However, the chairperson, May Wright Sewall (a nationally known educator,…

The Fortnightly Club in Vincennes is an educational, social, and humanitarian club for women. Before women were allowed to vote (1917 in Indiana, 1920 nationally), clubs and organizations were the only accepted way for women to take an active role in…