Dramatic enhancements coming to Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site

Construction will begin by early May on a $6 million project to transform the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site into a gathering place in the heart of the Old Northside, complete with expansive greenspace.

The project is the result of a $6 million “Old Glory, New Vision” capital campaign that will significantly enhance its two-plus acres of museum grounds and make renovations to the National Historic Landmark home of the 23rd president of the United States.

Ground was broken April 20 on the project, the cornerstone of which will be a new public commons that will give the landmark the prominence the home of America’s Hoosier president has long deserved, said Charlie Hyde, president and CEO of the Presidential Site. At the ground-breaking, Hyde said $5.6 million has been pledged toward the goal.

As one of Tripadvisor’s top 5 “Things to Do” in Indianapolis, the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site is poised for even greater outreach locally and nationally, Hyde said. The new facility will host almost 18,000 students – and a total of 30,000 visitors – each year at more than 30 special events, and bring visitors and the community together for the naturalization of new citizens, to vote in local and national elections, and for civil civic discourse. 

Key components will include: 

  • The Johnson-Floyd Family Presidential Commons, which will feature a beautiful wood and glass portico to greet visitors. The Presidential Commons will be the entry way into Citizenship Plaza with limestone viewing cases featuring America’s founding documents and “The Book of History” honoring naturalized citizens. 
  • The Stan & Sandy Hurt Presidential Promenade, which will guide visitors to the home of the 23rd President, following the “footsteps of the founders,” with a president represented each step along the way. 
  • A new neighborway, which will connect Pennsylvania and Delaware streets, enhancing walkability and bikeability. In conjunction with the recently completed Talbott Street restoration. This beautifully landscaped neighborhood connector will help restore accessibility that was lost with the construction of the interstate system in Indianapolis 50 years ago. 
  • New signature signage, which will highlight the Presidential Site’s presence to thousands of vehicles driving up Delaware Street daily and to the more than 170,000 motorists on Interstates 65/70 with a prominent new centennial flagpole that will fly both the American and presidential flags. 
  • Residence enhancements, which – in addition to investing in the continued preservation of the National Historic Landmark residence – will make the home’s first, second and third floors even more engaging for students, visitors and scholars. 
The neighborway will connect Delaware and Pennsylvania streets for pedestrians and bicyclists.

“Benjamin Harrison once said, ‘Great lives don’t go out, they go on.’ But it takes engaged citizens to keep the torch of good citizenship burning–and ready to hand off to the next generation,” Hyde said. “We are setting the stage for a stunning transformation of the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site – one that will increase our visibility and create a more civically engaged community by improving livability and offering new outdoor educational opportunities and events accessible to everyone.” 

The Old Glory, New Vision capital campaign’s successful launch was made possible largely in part due to grant awards from The Arthur Jordan Foundation and Lilly Endowment Inc., which have each supported the project with $1.5 million gifts. In addition, the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, a 501(c)3 organization has raised over $5.5 million towards its $6 million goal with gifts from R.B. Annis Educational Foundation, Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation, Inc., The Dorsey Foundation, and many individuals making lead gifts. The Presidential Site has also received $75,000 in matching gift commitments it is seeking to unlock through the support of new donors. Any gift between $50 and $5,000 will be eligible for up to a 1:1 match. 

Third-floor improvements will include more display cases as well as areas to enhance research opportunities.

To learn more or to make a gift in support, visit PresidentBenjaminHarrison.org or OldGloryNewVision.org

PHOTO ABOVE: The Johnson-Floyd Family Presidential Commons is the centerpiece of the planned enhancements to the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site.