close
close

These 10 Indiana cities have beautiful architecture

Indiana is a state with a rich history. First integrated into the Union in 1816 as the 19thTh State, it is one of the earliest states outside of the original 13 colonies. As such, the Hoosier State is full of historic architecture, ranging from majestic 19th-century mansions to quaint but still beautiful cottages and cabins. For travelers in the Midwest, Indiana is a great place to see beautiful architecture. Learn about ten small towns in Indiana where you can see this architecture firsthand.

Corydon

The historic town square in Corydon, Indiana. Image credit Charles Edward via Wikimedia Commons

As the original capital of Indiana before the capital was moved to Indianapolis, the southern Indiana town of Corydon has a long history. Downtown Corydon is full of historic buildings such as Indiana's First State Office Building, built in 1817 and used during Corydon's time as the state capital until 1825.

Other points of interest include the Corydon Capitol State Historic Site, built in the two-story Federal style, Governor Hendrick's headquarters, and a sandstone monument under which stands the trunk of the Constitutional Elm. Indiana delegates met under this tree in 1816 to draft Indiana's first state constitution.

Madison

Aerial view of Madison, Indiana.
Overlooking Madison, Indiana.

If you're looking for places to explore Indiana architecture, Madison is a treasure trove. This beautiful Indiana town of just over 12,200 residents features 133 historic blocks along the Ohio River Scenic Byway. There are eight house museums in the city, and the most famous of these is the Lanier Mansion State Historic Site, built in 1844 in the Greek Revival style.

Madison is proud of its variety of historic homes, including Dr. William Hutchings' Office & Museum, a two-story 19th-century medical building, the Historic Eleutherian College founded in 1848 by Neil Creek's Anti-Slavery Society, and the Madison Railroad station with two-story octagonal waiting room. There is plenty to see and explore in this idyllic Indiana town.

Nashville

Main Street, Nashville, Indiana.
Main Street, Nashville, Indiana. Photo credit Roberto Galan via Shutterstock

Nicknamed the “Little Smokies” because of its similar appearance to the Smokey Mountains, Nashville is a charming Indiana city with fascinating architecture hidden in unusual places. One of the most interesting places is Story Inn, an 1851 building by Dr. George Inn built inn. Today the inn is surrounded by Brown County State Park and is considered the most uncomfortable inn in the world.

When you visit the Brown County History Center, you can enter an 1879 log prison as well as a blacksmith shop and a doctor's office. Finally, be sure to visit artist Theodore Clement Steele's home in the beautiful woods of Brown County.

Goshen

Goshen, Indiana: The Elkhart County Courthouse
The Elkhart County Courthouse, Goshen, Indiana. Photo credit Roberto Galan via Shutterstock.com

Located on the northern border of Indiana, Goshen was founded in 1831. It takes its name from the city in Egypt where Exodus documents the living Israelites. Today, this town of just over 34,000 keeps its history alive through the Goshen Historical Society and its many historic buildings. In the business district, the Elkhart County Court House impresses visitors with its Italian Renaissance style, clock tower and Neptune Fountain.

There are many other landmarks throughout the rest of the city, including the Baker Hawks Log Cabin, the Queen Anne-style Harris-Penrod House, and the Greek Revival-style Rowell Champion House.

Vincennes

St. John's Catholic Church in Vincennes.
St. John's Catholic Church in Vincennes, Indiana. Photo credit NEHIT PHOTO via Shutterstock.com

Vincennes is by far the oldest city in Indiana. It was founded in 1732 by the French military officer Francois Marie Bissot-Sieur de Vincennes. Although this town was later lost to the British in the French and Indian War, it retains its old French spirit with the “French House”. This French Creole-style home was built in 1809 by Michel Brouillet and, unlike the log cabin style, features upright posts built into a horizontal window sill beam.

Vincennes is also home to the Original Territory Capitol Building, the oldest government building in the Midwest, known as the Red House because of its color. While you're in Vincennes, consider visiting the Elihu Stout Print Shop and Jefferson Academy, the first school of its kind in Indiana.

New harmony

Colorful downtown New Harmony, Indiana.
Colorful downtown New Harmony, Indiana. Photo credit Timothy K Hamilton Creativity+ Photography, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

New Harmony was home to two utopian communities, the Harmony Society in 1814 and later Robert Owen's Community of Equality in 1825. The echoes of these communities can be felt in New Harmony today through the buildings left behind. One such home is the David Lenz House and Garden, a single-family home built by a Harmonist.

Other buildings in the city have had multiple uses, such as the New Harmony Thralls Opera House, which was originally built as a dormitory for the Harmonists but was later converted into a Victorian theater. There are many other places you can explore on a tour of the community, such as the Rapp-Owen Granary and the Fauntleroy Home.

New Albany

The Culbertson Mansion is located on Main Street in the Mansion Row Historic District.
The Culbertson Mansion on Main Street in the Mansion Row Historic District, New Albany, Indiana. Photo credit Thomas Kelley via Shutterstock

Founded in 1813 on the Ohio River by brothers Joel, Nathaniel and Abner Scribner, New Albany is one of the oldest communities in Indiana. For mansion lovers, New Albany is a must because the downtown mansion district is home to one of the state's best: the Culbertson Mansion State Historic Site, built in the late 19th century in the French Second Empire style. Another mansion in the area, The Pepin Mansion, now doubles as a bed and breakfast for a lovely experience.

A unique location in the city is the Town Clock Church, which offers tours of the crawlspace that was used for runaway slaves from the Underground Railroad. New Albany is also home to the Division Street School, built in 1884 to educate the city's African American children.

Aurora

Streets in downtown Aurora, Indiana.
Downtown Aurora, Indiana. Image credit ChicagoPhotographer via Shutterstock

Named after the Roman goddess, Aurora was incorporated along the Ohio River in 1845. Today, this picturesque town of nearly 3,500 residents hides a true treasure: one of the finest mansions in the entire state: The Hillforest Mansion. Built in the 1850s, this Italian Renaissance-style mansion offers a taste of Old World design. The oldest structure in Aurora is the City of Spiers Museum, formerly a church whose name comes from the large central tower.

Other attractions in town include the East Laughery Creek Road Phantom Bridge and the Veraestau State Historic Site.

Ferdinand

Ferdinand, Indiana.
Monastery in Ferdinand, Indiana.

Named after Austrian Emperor Ferdinand I, this village was first founded in 1840 by Reverend Joseph Kundek as a center for German Catholics in Indiana. This German heritage is on full display in the many idyllic buildings of this small town of just over 2,100 residents. The best place is the Immaculate Concept Monastery, home of the Sisters of Saint Benedict, which has an incredible dome.

As you walk around the town, you will also see many structures, such as the Catholic St. Ferdinand Church, built in 1848, the Eiberg House, built in 1870, and the Göpferich House, which some claim is older than the village itself.

French licking

Aerial view of the historic West Baden Springs Hotel in French Lick, Indiana.
Historic West Baden Springs Hotel in French Lick, Indiana.

No list of the best Indiana architecture would be complete without mentioning French Lick. The West Baden Springs Hotel is a majestic sight with a dome and atrium that stretch over 200 feet, as well as spires. You don't need to check into the hotel to visit as they offer tours of the historic site. The other hotel in the area, the French Lick Springs Hotel, is another picturesque location with a history dating back to 1845.

There's more to see in town than just hotels, like the Greek Revival-style Orange County Courthouse and the historic Lindley House, built in the mid-1850s in nearby Paoli.

Indiana has been home to many different communities, from French settlers to German Catholics to utopian cities, and they have all left their mark on the region's architecture. Whether you're looking for Renaissance-style government buildings, Victorian mansions, log cabins, or beautiful cathedrals, Indiana has something for you. For architecture lovers in the Midwest, Indiana will never disappoint.

Anna Harden

Learn More →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *