As a successful attorney, Benjamin Harrison purchased a double lot on the west side of North Delaware Street in May 1868. In 1874, he and wife Caroline began construction of their 16-room Italianate style house, a carriage house, brick drive and landscaping. The cost was $24,818.67. Benjamin kept a detailed journal during the construction. Our collection includes records of checks and receipts for purchases toward construction. Except for the periods 1881 to 1887 when Harrison was in the U.S. Senate and 1889 to 1893, the presidential years, Benjamin and Caroline Harrison and their two children Russell and Mary lived in the Delaware Street home.
After his presidency in 1893, Harrison returned to Indianapolis a widower. Caroline died in the White House in 1892. Harrison made several changes to the Delaware Street home including the addition of an English-Regency front porch, electricity and updated plumbing. In 1896, Harrison married his wife's niece, Mary Lord Dimmick. Mary Lord and Benjamin had a daughter Elizabeth in 1897. Harrison died in the home on March 13, 1901.
After Harrison's death, Mary and Elizabeth lived in the home until 1913 when they moved to New York. From 1913 to 1937, the house was rented to various families and eventually became a rooming house. In March of 1937, the Arthur Jordan Foundation purchased the house and furniture. The Arthur Jordan Foundation used the home as a dormitory for the female students in the Jordan Conservatory of Music housed in a readapted home on a south adjoining lot. The purchase of the home included a provision that the home would also be considered a memorial to Benjamin Harrison.
In 1951, the music school moved to Butler University where it continues to be known as Jordan College. As per their agreement with Mrs. Harrison, the Arthur Jordan Foundation Trustees opened the Harrison Home to the public. In 1964, the United States Department of Interior named the home a National Historic Landmark. In 1966, the Jordan Foundation created the President Benjamin Harrison Foundation to maintain and operate the home in accordance with the statement of purpose. And in 2003, the museum earned accreditation by the American Association of Museums (AAM). In 2010, the Board of Directors effectively changed the name of the Foundation to the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site.