Historic Sites

Every city has its own unique feel and vibe, which is determined by a number of things. The local historic sites are no doubt one of the largest contributing factors to the aura that surrounds a city. When in Indianapolis, users recommend paying a visit to Morris-Butler House, in the Historic District area to get a feel for what truly makes up the city.

10 Crown Hill Cemetery
A stroll through this massive cemetery (the fifth largest in the nation) is like taking a walk through history. Grab a map from the gatehouse and let it guide you to the tombs of some of history's most important figures. Indy poet James Whitcomb Riley is buried at the highest natural point in Indianapolis. Also among the 170,000 gravesites are the tombs of notorious bank robber John Dillinger and former Vice-President Thomas Marshall (who served under Woodrow Wilson in the early part of the 20th century). Call for details about public tours, which meet at the 34th Street Gate (34th Street and Boulevard Place). (317-925-8231, 800-809-3366)

9 Indiana Statehouse
A recent $10 million renovation restored the somber walls of this building to their former splendor. Before the renovation efforts, the walls were a dull green, a color that had been painted by local inmates. The Indiana General Assembly meets here at the beginning of every year. Sightseers may call ahead for a guided tour of the spectacular interior. Once inside, visitors will see the brass spittoons in the Supreme Court Chambers, the beautiful brass chandeliers, and the stately marble floors. (317-233-5293)

8 Union Station
The original Union Station, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has been adapted as a character-laden hotel. As such, it's not necessarily open to touring, but the starting point of the Indianapolis Railroad is worth browsing nevertheless. Trains still run through the Romanesque Revival property, offering a glimpse of yesteryear, and the renovation of the station is a feast for the eyes. The Grand Hall boasts works of art, stained-glass windows, and barrel-vaulted ceilings. A great glimpse of the city's past. (317-327-4406)

7 World War Memorial
Standing atop a hill for all to see is this inspirational memorial with an inscription that reads, "Vindicate the principles of peace and justice in the world." A variety of war paraphernalia retraces the history of Indiana, and a Shrine Room contains an altar with an American flag standing in honor of those who lost their lives fighting for their country. (317-232-7615)

6 Murat Theatre at Old National Centre
A visit to this imposing structure, with its exotic turret and detailed tilework, brings you to the largest shrine temple in the world. A one-time Shriners' headquarters, the structure now hosts a variety of performances and important events, including conferences, receptions, Broadway shows, and pre-show gatherings. Visitors should keep their eyes open for the appearance of a resident ghost, believed to be the cause of inexplicable slamming doors and blinking lights. Even sans ghost, the ornate Egyptian room and the Islamic-inspired architecture make any visit worthwhile. (317-231-0000)

5 James Whitcomb Riley Home
Located in the quaint neighborhood of Lockerbie Square, this popular home was the estate of Indianapolis's own esteemed poet, James Whitcomb Riley. The house was built in the late 19th century and is furnished with antiques indicative of the era. Sightseers and historians are delighted to see the place Riley called home for 23 years. His room still features the writer's clothes and hats as well as an antique pen that he used. (317-631-5885)

4 Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site
America's 23rd president, Benjamin Harrison, came from a long line of important political figures, and this attractive, three-story home affords a glimpse into his life and that of his family. Many of the Victorian-era furnishings adorning the residence actually belonged to Harrison, along with numerous artifacts and personal effects. Today, the sizeable lawn, Centennial Room, and kitchen may be rented for special events. Guided house tours begin on the hour and half-hour at the front door of the museum. The first tour begins at 10am; the last tour at 3:30pm. All tours are guided. (317-631-1888)

3 Indiana Historic National Road
Commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson, the route now known as the Historic National Road was completed in 1834 and proved to be a vital part of Americans' westward movement in the mid-19th century. Having endured massive changes in transportation and culture, the road is now lined with many points of interest. Huddleston Farmhouse Museum, Wayne County Historical Museum, the '50s-style diner and drive-in theater in Plainfield, and plenty of old-fashioned filling stations and farms educate and entertain you along the way. (765-478-3172)

2 Scottish Rite Cathedral
Constructed in 1929, this Tudor-Gothic cathedral has often been lauded as one of the world's most beautiful buildings. Highlights include a carillon with 54 bells, an enormous pipe organ, a walnut parquet-floored ballroom, and a marble-and-woodwork Tiler's Room (the entrance). Gorgeous, handcrafted art glass windows use natural light to illuminate their intricate designs, and architectural details throughout the cathedral allude to the rites of Freemasonry. Take a free tour to learn more. (317-262-3100)

1 Morris-Butler House
This gem of Victorian architecture lends a touch of dignity and elegance to the Old Northside neighborhood, once a fashionable alternative to downtown Indianapolis. A guided tour of the three-floored structure reveals an elegant parlor, servants' quarters, and an intricate, antique Wooton desk, as well as 19th-century paintings and objets d'art. Details like the crown moldings, wallpaper and plasterwork have been faithfully restored to accurately portray the house in its heyday. Exhibits, educational programs and tours afford many opportunities to explore this historical treasure chest. (317-636-5409)


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Maps and Directions

1
Crown Hill Cemetery 10Best List Arrow
Type: Historic Sites, Sightseeing
Neighborhood: Broad Ripple
2
Indiana Statehouse 10Best List Arrow
Type: Architecture, Historic Sites
Neighborhood: WAR MEMORIAL PLAZA HISTORIC DIST
3
Union Station 10Best List Arrow
Type: Architecture, Historic Sites, Sightseeing
Neighborhood: DOWNTOWN
4
World War Memorial 10Best List Arrow
Type: Historic Sites, Sightseeing
Neighborhood: WAR MEMORIAL PLAZA HISTORIC DIST
5
Murat Theatre at Old National Centre 10Best List Arrow
Type: Architecture, Cultural Venues, Sightseeing
Neighborhood: DOWNTOWN
6
James Whitcomb Riley Home 10Best List Arrow
Type: Historic Sites, History Museums, Museums
Neighborhood: CHATHAM ARCH
7
Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site 10Best List Arrow
Type: Historic Sites, History Museums, Museums
Neighborhood: HISTORIC OLD NORTHSIDE
8
Indiana Historic National Road 10Best List Arrow
Type: Historic Sites, Sightseeing
Neighborhood: DOWNTOWN
9
Scottish Rite Cathedral 10Best List Arrow
Type: Architecture, Cultural Venues, Sightseeing
Neighborhood: WAR MEMORIAL PLAZA HISTORIC DIST
10
Morris-Butler House 10Best List Arrow
Type: Architecture, Historic Sites
Neighborhood: HISTORIC DISTRICT