Haan Mansion Museum of Indiana Art
920 E. State Street, Lafayette, IN 47905
[tours by reservation only] The home, featured in the book "99 Historic Indiana Homes", served as the Connecticut State Building at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (known as the St. Louis Worlds Fair) in 1904. At the conclusion of the Fair, a wealthy Lafayette resident, William Potter, purchased the home at auction for $3000. It was then disassembled and moved to Lafayette on the Wabash Railroad, where it now sits on five acres near downtown. It gets even more interesting, as that was not its first move. Many of the parts, such as hand-carved wainscoting, interior arches, columns and doors were taken from the 1760 Hubbard-Slater mansion in Norwich, CT., which was about to be demolished.
William S. Potter hired Wing and Mahurin Architects from Fort Wayne to draw plans to rebuild the home on his property. The mansion is a faithful reproduction of what it was at the Fair, with a few changes to make it a comfortable family home. It remained in the Potter family until 1984, when it was purchased by Bob and Ellie Haan.
The two main floors, encompassing about 9000 square feet, are open for visitors at pre-scheduled times. The grand Classical Revival mansion features a great hall with an open well, a double staircase, interior arches, columns and pilasters, and verandas on the first and second floors. An elevator allows guests with mobility problems access to the second floor.
The Haans started collecting historic Indiana art in 1992, and now have the finest and most complete collection ever assembled. Many of the pieces have been borrowed by other Museums in Indiana and Ohio, and many have been published in books about Indiana art. The collection includes works by Pioneer painters, the Hoosier Group, Richmond artists, Brown County artists and many others. The Indiana State Museum had an exhibition of the Haans' 1930s and 1940s Regionalist (American Scene) paintings in 2010. There is also a nice selection of major Native American paintings by CAA artist Martin Grelle.
This multi-discipline museum also boasts an impressive collection of furniture normally found only in the largest museums and mansions. The furniture, which includes two music boxes and several grandfather clocks, is generally large and ornately carved. A majority of the large pieces are Renaissance Revival, and date from about 1860 to 1890. Other pieces in the Museum range from 1800 to 1900, and with a few exceptions are made in America. A four poster bed and a half-tester bed are among the older pieces.
Rounding out the collection are major pieces from the Worlds Fair, including three Weller vases ranging from 53 inches to 7 feet high. An eight-foot Tiffany hanging wall regulator clock is believed to have been created for the 1893 Columbian Exposition. The art, furniture and decorative arts and the grand scale of the Mansion create an experience that you won't soon forget.
A 7-mile mountain bike trail for intermediate and advanced riders is on the Museum grounds and another nearby property. The trail is not for beginners, as it includes brides, ramps, whoop-de-dos, rocks, steps, benched areas, hills and other challenges. For safety reasons, the trail is not open to hikers.
On the grounds of Haan Mansion is a sculpture garden. It includes over twenty sculptures from notable Indiana artists. The sculptures range in form and media, including: bronze, stone, clay, and steel. Most pieces are under 8 feet tall to provide guests with a more intimate experience. It is free and open to the public every day, complementing the nature trail that is on the Museum grounds. The nature trail is home to 30 species of native Indiana trees, identified and labeled. Visitors can learn more about the art in the Garden, but also enjoy some of Indiana's natural beauty, as well. The trail is a 5 foot wide, wheelchair accessible path that travels for about 1,000 feet. Benches are placed along the path for rest and contemplation. The wheelchair accessible path gives all visitors access to the theater garden located behind the Museum for live performances and special events.