Written by Laura Minzes, deputy director Historic Sites Structures and Real Estate
How do you return a building to a specific time period? Why would you do this?
The Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites is undertaking the restoration of the Lanier Mansion to its 1850. Why, you ask? Well, first and most important is that J. F. D. Lanier, the building’s original and most prominent owner, occupied the house from 1844 to 1851. Mr. Lanier was a prominent banker, stockholder and financier who loaned the state money not just once but TWICE (and it was paid back by the state both times!). During the Civil War and after Mr. Lanier had relocated to New York, he made unsecured loans totaling over $1 million, first to enable Gov. Oliver P. Morton to outfit the Indiana troops, and then to enable the state to keep up interest payments on its debt.
The second reason is that when the Lanier Mansion was designated a State Historic Site in 1925, the legislature mandated that the structure reflect its 1850 appearance. And finally, the roof needed to be replaced, so it was the opportune time.
Now for the “how” … Besides being a State Historic Site for over 80 years, Lanier Mansion has been a National Historic Landmark since 1994. Designed by architect Frances Costigan and considered to be one of the best examples of Greek Revival architecture in the county, the restoration to a different time period (presently it represents 1870) is not taken lightly as it involves careful removal of later additions. The drawing shows the way the Mansion will look after the restoration.
Following three years of formal study and many more years of informal discovery, the Lanier Roof project will restore the original roof line of the East Wing of the Mansion.
A little research and investigation always reveals fascinating secrets! Stay tuned …