beneath Lanier Mansion outbuildings
officials plan to build
a replica of the carriage house
MADISON, Ind. (March 2003) Work halted during the winter
but will soon resume on Lanier Mansion State Historic Sites most
recent archeological project to uncover the remains of a carriage house
and summer kitchen.
One small area along the southeast corner of the summer kitchen wall
is all that remains to be excavated, said historic site manager Link
Ludington. The remaining area will be uncovered sometime in early spring
shortly before construction begins on the interpretive center, Ludington
An archeological crew headed by Bill Wepler, curator of Historical Archaeology
of the Indiana State Museum, has already exposed most of the remains,
including the brick foundation. The crew has uncovered some relevant
pieces of Lanier history, including evidence of two rooms. One was a
kitchen with an attached L-shaped shed, which became the carriage house.
Another was a small 10-foot-square privy, according to Wepler.
Wepler at work
during last fall's dig
The buildings predate the mansion, Wepler said, and were
probably constructed in the 1830s to serve James F. D. Laniers
original dwelling, which faced Elm Street where a garage now sits. The
original Lanier home was built between 1825 and 1831 and, according
to newspaper advertisements for scrap materials from the home, was demolished
after the Civil War.
According to maps and lithographs, it appears that the group of buildings
that included the summer kitchen and carriage house remained for several
years after the original house was demolished, Wepler said. After the
construction of the mansion, the buildings were formally tied together
as one structure, but, for reasons not entirely apparent, the buildings
were torn down around 1900. His crew has uncovered portions that remain
of the brick foundation of the buildings, which will be used in the
interpretation of the site.
In addition to the structural foundations, remains of ceramic dishes,
some dating prior to the 1830s and animal remains, such as scraps consistent
with food preparation have been found.
Elizabeth Scott, part of the archeological team from the state museum,
said that while working at the site she uncovered the remains of pig,
sheep, goat, cow and bird. Scott has worked on and off at Lanier for
about a decade and will use information she has gathered in completion
of a masters degree in archeology from Ball State University.
Archeological excavation has been an ongoing project at Lanier since
1992 and has included work on the layout of the gardens and location
of various buildings that once stood at the site. Switzerland County
High School teacher Leon Hostetler has worked closely with Wepler in
excavating the site. According to Wepler, in addition to working at
the site, Hostetler developed an educational program through which students
who volunteered at the dig could receive high school credits.
Wepler said that besides the current carriage house project, the Lanier
site offers many more archeological opportunities, including uncovering
additional landscaping evidence and the original house.
Theres a lot going on here, said Wepler.
The overall objective of the kitchen-carriage house project, said Ludington,
is to construct a replication of the building over the area that is
now being excavated.
Ludington said that exhibit design teams have recently met in Indianapolis
to work on plans for exhibits in both the carriage house and the new
visitors center, where administrative offices for Lanier Mansion
will soon relocate. The new visitors center building will be located
at 601 W. First St., adjacent to the mansion.
Ludington said he hopes to be able to begin moving equipment and furniture
to the new office sometime in March. After the move is completed, then
the carriage house project will become the primary project of the historic
site, Ludington said.
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